Below are listed just a few of the many resources that have been made available for Christians and churches dealing with our present trying time.
SCRIPTURES (among, of course, many, many others)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11)
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save Your servant, who trusts in You—You are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to You do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of Your servant,
for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon You,
for You answer me.
There is none like You among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like Yours.
All the nations You have made shall come
and worship before You, O Lord,
and shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous things;
You alone are God. (PSalm 86:1-10)
WORSHIP PLANNING HELPS
“Prayer for Times of Pestilence” (W. David O. Taylor)
Oh Lord, You who are the refuge of the poor and needy, we ask that You would save us from the pestilence that stalks in the darkness and the plague that destroys at midday. Be our sun and shield. Be our fortress. Be our comfort this day. May we not fear any evil but rather trust in Your might to save and Your wisdom to guide, so that we may rest always in the shadow of the Almighty. In the name of the One who heals our diseases. Amen.
Roberta King, Professor of Communication and Ethnomusicology in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a former musical missionary to Africa, has drawn upon a lifetime of service to give a rich overview of how the arts can and should play a central role in the work of the church worldwide—both inside and outside its walls. Dr. King not only feels passionately about the subject, she has walked the walk (or, perhaps more fittingly, danced the dance!). She recounts many experiences from her own time in Africa as well from her involvement in various global arts events; and she also shares numerous anecdotal accounts from former students and other practitioners from around the world.
As N. T. Wright has pointed out:
The arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are highways into the center of a reality which cannot be glimpsed, let alone grasped, any other way. The present world is good, but broken and in any case incomplete; art of all kinds enables us to understand that paradox and its many dimensions. . . . Perhaps art can help us to look beyond the immediate beauty with all its puzzles, and to glimpse that new creation which makes sense not only of beauty but of the world as a whole, and ourselves within it. (N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 235-36)
Similarly, King argues for a “new perspective [that] fosters embracing all cultural peoples and their artistic languages . . . and redeeming them for making the gospel known and faithfully lived out. A people’s expressive languages offer a resource of culturally defined signal systems that contribute to bringing peoples to see the glory of God and know his salvation.” (p. 239). King convincingly shows how a proper appreciation for and practice of “culturally defined and appropriated” (p. 239) artistic expressions can open doors for the gospel, build community, and foster dialogue among interfaith groups. And she points that ethnic and artistic diversity is not just “out there” in far-flung places, but through globalization is increasingly the norm in our own cities as well.
King also advocates a shift in attitude that will see a place in this artistic enterprise for a wider range of believers (laity, ministers, missionaries) than just professional or highly trained artists (though she insists that there is an important role for them as well.) (pp. 241-42)
This book is an important contribution to a field of ministry that has been growing in importance and focus over the past few decades, and Dr. King proves to be exceptionally qualified and winsome guide to the subject.
(Dr. King is planning a companion volume in the next couple of years on Global Arts and Christian Worship.)