Reflections on Worship

Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1: Songs that fuel missionary worship

If John Piper is right (and he is) that worship is the fuel and goal of missions (Let the Nations Be Glad, 11), then missionaries ought to cultivate their worship. Music is a prime means of expressing our worship. In my personal time with the Lord I often will meditate on the lyrics as I listen to Christian artists. I have especially enjoyed Andrew Peterson’s lyrics for their imagery and biblical content.

This past Easter at our church we sang Peterson’s new song, “Is He Worthy” drawn from Revelation chapter five. I was overwhelmed. I could not speak for a while. A friend of mine said to me “that song took me by surprise.” He was likewise moved. When I got home I downloaded the Resurrection Letters, vol. 1 album and started listening. The whole album is a delightful meditation on the cross and resurrection. The songs are rich in biblical imagery and the instrumentation is beautiful, especially the hammered dulcimer. The album provided the structure for a day alone with God this past summer. After each song I read passages of Scripture prompted by the lyrics. It was a rich day of worship.

Resurrection Letters, vol. 1 begins with ” His Heart Beats,” a song that vividly reminds us that Christ’s resurrection was physical:

His heart beats, His blood begins to flow
Waking up what was dead a moment ago
And His heart beats, now everything is changed
‘Cause the blood that brought us peace with God
is racing through His veins …
He breathes in, the living lungs expand
The heavy air surrounding death turns to breath again
He breathes out, He is word and flesh once more
The Lamb of God slain for us is a Lion ready to roar
And His heart beats …
He took one breath
And put death to death …

The song includes many biblical phrases depicting the victory over death in Christ’s resurrection.

Drenched in images of winter turning to spring, the second song proclaims that Jesus is “Risen Indeed.” The third song, “Remember Me,” is filled with allusions to Scripture that help us see what the thief on the cross recognized – that Christ’s death made the way for God’s kingdom to come. Christ laid down his life because he saw a day coming,

When the Son will stand on the mount again
With an army of angels at His command
And the earth will split like the hull of a seed
Wherever Jesus plants His feet
And up from the earth, the dead will rise
Like spring trees robed in petals of white
Singing the song of the radiant bride

“I’ve Seen Too Much” highlights the eye witness nature of the apostles’ testimony with lines like:

I know it sounds crazy
But I know what I saw
When the sun came up on the brightest day
From the darkest night of all
I saw the man die
They laid Him in the tomb
And I know ’cause I saw it with my own two eyes
When He stepped into the room

Whenever I celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the song “Remember and Proclaim” will echo in my mind reminding me that

As we gather round the table
We remember and proclaim
Christ has died, Christ is risen
Christ will come again

The next song reflects on a visit to the western wall in Jerusalem and modifies the Jewish phrase, “maybe next year in Jerusalem” recited at the end of Passover. “Maybe Next Year” focuses on our Lord’s return with allusions to fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament. Yes, “We’ll meet again some day in the New Jerusalem – maybe next year.”

“Rise Up” recognizes that not all is restored yet, but comforts Christians who suffer assuring them that they will “rise up in the end.”

You really need to listen to “Is He Worthy?” for yourself. Descriptions don’t do it justice. A video is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIahc83Kvp4

Here are some lines from “Is He Worthy?” that fuel missionary worship:

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son

The final song, “All Things Together,” beautifully portrays Colossians 1: 15-20 where the apostle Paul celebrates the preeminence of Christ.

I encourage you to add music to your personal worship times. Your music tastes may be different than mine – and that’s ok. Music with good biblical content will help keep our spiritual formation focused on worship. The centrality of Christ’s resurrection is explored in its many dimensions in Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters, vol. 1. You might also enjoy his album on the incarnation, “Behold the Lamb of God.” These two albums are a part of my personal worship during Christmas and Easter.

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