Easter Greetings to Our Sedona UMC Family & Friends,

Singer songwriter Matt Redman who has written so many of the great contemporary worship songs over the past 10 plus years is credited with writing one of the greatest worship ballads of all times— It’s entitled “The Heart of Worship”—It is a beautifully simple, acoustic confessional ballad.

Redman shares the story behind “The Heart of Worship” in a very personal way—The song dates to the late 1990s, born from a period of apathy within Redman’s home church in Watford, England. He says—”Despite England’s huge overall contribution to the Christian worship revival, his congregation was struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time.”

“There was a dynamic missing—worship became too much of a performance! So, the pastor did a brave thing,” he recalls. “The pastor got rid of the sound system and the praise band—For a period of time the congregation gathered for worship with just their voices—They sang all the songs acapella.” They experienced longer and deeper times of worship. Really dug into the scriptures—and during most gatherings lost all track of time—they sometimes worshipped for hours. (Your thinking, don’t get any crazy ideas pastor, right?)

But what they discovered was that they had lost their way in worship—it became too much about the ancillary things—the music, the performance and he believed they needed a change in their focus—they needed a way to get back to the heart of what worship is supposed to be—about Jesus!!!! About praising—Giving honor and glory and praise to God.

He wanted to remind them that they had an active part—they were participants in worship, not just consumers. He asked them to consider— “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God? And when you leave—does your worship end at the exit door?”

Redman said, that as they posed these questions initially, it led to some embarrassing silence, but eventually people broke into a cappella songs and heartfelt prayers, encountering God in a fresh new way. And taking their worship out into the world.

“Eventually, we reintroduced the musicians and sound system, but we’d gained a whole new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and He commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting. ‘The Heart of Worship’ simply describes what occurred.”

When the music fades, and all is stripped away, and I simply come—
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless your heart…
I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself, is not what You have required—
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear, you’re looking into my heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, it’s all about you Jesus!
I’m sorry for all the things I’ve made it— cause it’s all about You, it’s all about you Jesus! -Words from Matt Redman

It’s hard to believe that we have almost concluded our Lenten season and are heading into Holy Week and Easter. I have heard from several this year what they have ‘given up for Lent” but as I so often encourage—What practice of worship have you added this year to increase the ways you give honor and glory and praise to God?

A few suggestions: More and deeper times of prayer. Additional bi-ble reading and studies. A deeper commitment to worship and taking forth your worship into the community. How about making a commitment to mentor another in the faith. Finding ways you can bring revival in your families and circles of friends. Find new and creative ways to express your gratitude to the Lamb of God who came and gave us everything—His very life! For us, for you!

I want to invite you to begin Holy Week on Palm Sunday 4/2 @ 9:30am and line the parade route—to celebrate the King of all Kings. And then continue your walk with Jesus through the final days of His earthly life with Maundy (Holy) Thursday 4/6 @ 6:00 PM and join the Feast of Friends, experiencing Jesus preparing His disciples (us) for Friday. Good Friday 4/7 @ 7 PM we remember the love Jesus showed for all creation as He walked the Via De La Rosa and gave Himself on the cross in our place.

I encourage you to renew or, for some, find your way back to the heart of worship which is Jesus Christ, it will change your whole outlook—it will change the way you live.

A great place to renew and strengthen your faith commitment for the year ahead is at one or both of our Easter Services 4/9 @ 6:30 am & 9:30 am. Come and greet the risen Christ Jesus!

May we all truly commit to returning to the heart of worship—It’s all about YOU Jesus!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Fred