“The Sending” is the name of my new worship album and it is based on John 20:21 when Jesus says to His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Sending has always been a part of God’s modus operandi for saving the world. In the Old Testament He sent leaders and prophets, white clouds and pillars of fire, to guide His people. He sent manna from heaven and tablets of stone with instructions for holy living to sustain His people and show them His ways.
Sending is an essential aspect of how God communicates with and cares for His people. Indeed, this was demonstrated in no greater act than the sending of God’s only Son Jesus Christ to live on the earth, die and rise again so that the world could be saved from sin. But God’s saving and sending work didn’t end there.
Jesus told His disciples that when He returned to heaven He would “ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17a). Even today, the Holy Spirit continues to work in the world and in the heart of every follower of Jesus, teaching and empowering us to live and love like Jesus would if He were in our shoes.
Finally, the Holy Spirit was sent to the Church because the Church has been sent to the world. The task of embodying, declaring and demonstrating the kingdom of God is not something that we can do in our own strength. God Himself fills and strengthens us with His Spirit in order that we might be equipped with His wisdom and love to serve others, stand for justice, work diligently, create beauty and build communities that do the same. It is not just ministers and missionaries who are “sent” by God to do His work in the world – we all are!
When the apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, saying “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” he is reflecting the truth that the Christian faith is a faith based on movement – a daily walk with God and a willing participation in His plans (Gal 5:25). This is at the heart of what it means to be a “sent” person – being adaptable and responsive to the leading and guiding of the Spirit, living in obedience to God for the service of others. It means seeing every day as a doorway into partnership with God in His mission – wherever He leads us. It means looking for ways to sacrificially serve others, following the model of life that Jesus demonstrated throughout His life and ministry.
Seeing ourselves as being “sent” is the polar opposite to comfortable consumerism and the ever-present narcissism of our culture. Being sent implies that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and it orients us toward serving others, not ourselves. To be sent requires trust, sacrifice, an outward-orientation, and a sense of calling to actively participate in the mission and purpose of God. It is about spending our energy and resources to love and care for others.
Worship reminds us that we are the “sent ones” by reorienting our hearts and minds around the story of Jesus and what God has done, what he is doing and what he will do to restore all creation into right relationship with Himself. Gathering with other believers to worship is a crucial part of discipleship, and should help us maintain an orientation of “sent-ness” throughout the week. Worship should both draw us into God and send us out with Him into the world.
“The Sending” is more than just a collection of songs – the album unfolds these ideas in three acts… Firstly, the album opens with songs that remind us of the life and mission of Jesus. If we are sent as He was, we need to constantly reflect on what He did and how He lived. The second act consists of songs that reflect the work of the Holy Spirit, Who conforms us into the likeness of Jesus and empowers us to do the work that contributes to the coming of His kingdom on earth. The third and final act contains songs and prayers that declare our willingness to go into the world as the sent people of God.
It is my prayer that these songs will serve as an encouragement and reminder that we are called – and sent – just as Jesus was. And when we live as sent people, we offer a sacrifice of praise that brings more glory to God than any song ever could.
“Send us out and we will go, Where you lead, Lord we will follow, For Your Word, it is a light unto our feet, So take our lives and have Your way, A sacrifice of reverence and praise, All we are is all for you and for your fame.”
(From the song “Send Us Out” by Ryan Day, Track 12 on “The Sending”, now available on iTunes.)
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