From the beginning of the year through December, with the usual break in the summer, the choir sings for the 11 am service, faithfully, every Sunday, as well as other special services.
Special Services include a beautiful Good Friday Service, singing three songs. The choir also sang a full service of music in May for Choir Appreciation Sunday. This was quite a special Choir Appreciation Sunday, as every song was by one of our most loved composers, out of Tennessee, Mary McDonald. I was first introduced to her music by our dearly departed Marilyn Gissel, so it was extra special. Then, the choir took its well deserved summer break, while Tanya Stojanović and members of the Praise Team led worship for the combined summer service.
The choir begins singing at the 11am service again in September. We had a wonderful opportunity last November to sing for a prayer and healing service, Taizé style, led by Rev. Stasia VanBuskirk. I was pleased to have them sing one of my own arrangements of a Kyrie, inspired by a traditional Russian Orthodox melody, as well as many other Taizé pieces. It was a lovely experience.
Advent was a wonderful time of favorite Christmas songs in preparation for His coming. This year, Christmas fell on a Sunday. The choir joined forces with members of the Praise Team, as well as volunteers from the congregation to form a special “Christmas Choir”! The choir had several rehearsals to act as the core of this special choir but, due to snow and ice cancelling one of only two combined rehearsals, the other singers had just one rehearsal, and then sang it at the Christmas morning service as if they’d practiced it for a year. It was very exciting!
The choir sang for the 11pm Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Even missing quite a few members, they did an amazing job. Oak Hills is very lucky to have a choir of this caliber, which never fails to lead worship in the most fantastic way.
We are all very much looking forward to a musical and worshipful 2017!
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Oak Hills Church –
In the past hour, reports have begun to surface about yet another tragic mass shooting – this one close to home, right here in Oregon at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. The initial reports indicate ten fatalities and many more wounded. No word yet on a shooter or a motive.
When I saw the news I felt the all-too-familiar sensation of hopelessness. We’ve had too many of these recently. Evil takes its mask off and parades through the news cycle while we all look on in horror.
Yet behind that initial feeling of grief, I experienced a renewed sense of urgency: we can be part of fighting this battle! And right now, our greatest weapon is prayer. We are told three very clear things in scripture:
1) We serve a God who hears our prayers and longs to heal our land when we go to him on our knees (2 Chronicles 7:14).
2) We serve a God who can bring holy peace into the midst of terrible tragedy (John 16:33)
3) We serve a God who ultimately brings justice and redemption to his broken world (Romans 8:20-21)
I encourage you to find five minutes this afternoon, and to pray these prayers along with me and with the church:
a) For those who are wounded and fighting for life and health in the hospital – Lord work your healing in their bodies and minds.
b) For the families of the deceased – Lord cover them over in your peace which passes all understanding.
c) For the shooter(s) – that evil might be overcome with good. That justice might be done. That hate might not be the final victor.
d) For the bystanders, the shaken, the community of Umpqua Community College – that courageous servants would step forward with words of comfort and acts of kindness.
e) For our broken world – that those who seek infamy through these terrible acts would be intercepted by God’s grace and disarmed by God’s love.
f) For the church, that we might be boldly engaged with the lost, the lonely, the violent – those most in need of God’s love.
Lets be the church in prayer today!! Thank you for joining me in the holy, urgent work of prayer.
And please contact me for further conversation, or to share your own struggles with these events. God’s grace is sufficient.
Yours in Christ,