Worship ministry, like many other ministries at CrossRoads, has experienced a year of new and unexpected opportunities. “Opportunities?” You ask. “Don’t you mean a year of closures and restrictions, of ‘unprecedented’ and ‘new normal’?” Yes, that too. But, we’ve also seen some new windows of opportunity opening up. Maria said it well in The Sound of Music: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window”. Like the story of Joseph (see Genesis 37-50), God can pack difficult circumstances with so much good purpose (Genesis 50:20)!
After months of online services, the two outdoor gatherings in August breathed new life into our worship teams and church family. With in-person services starting up again, despite limited attendance rules, things were looking up. Though 15% occupancy is 85% less than we’d love to see, it was a window – one that lasted until very recently and one that we have been so grateful for. Our online experience was improved and expanded, with hundreds of devices signing in every Sunday, each representing a family participating from home. What a privilege to continue to lead our CrossRoads family in worship of our glorious, worthy Father!
In the fall, the Lord gave us a theme for the year ahead: being known by God and by each other, and honing our gifts and skills as worshippers. Our weekly Thursday gatherings in the fall focused on personal musical goal-setting and on finding tools to pursue growth.
And we saw windows of opportunity all over the place! We had teams serving on Sundays, at Celebrate Recovery, with junior and senior high students and young adults. We pooled some money and blessed several hurting families and individuals in our city. We served at Embraced, a city-wide worship event, and at an Alpha retreat. We also hosted a Burn, an extended worship and prayer time focused on healing.
Leadership at CrossRoads saw an open window during the Christmas season and initiated the Merry Christmas Red Deer video project – a message of hope and joy to our city. But as three teams prepared and recorded music for the project, there was a COVID outbreak among staff and our worship crew. Unfortunately, Merry Christmas Red Deer wasn’t completed, however the support for those affected by COVID was plentiful and compassionate, and everyone recovered well. Just in time for six Christmas Eve services full of joy and hope after all! God is so good!
As the calendar changed to 2021, we felt led to focus on the ‘being known’ part of our fall vision and to invest in community. So during the Psalm 23 series, two Zoom worship groups were created. They met virtually each week for rich discussion and prayer time. Most Thursdays in the new year were spent in worship and prayer rather than music practice. Together, these three nights every week contributed to spiritual growth and maturity that prepared our crew well to serve in all of our various technical and musical avenues.
Usually, one of the brightest spots on the worship calendar is Thursday Night Live (TNL), an event celebrating original music written by members of our team. This year, that door was firmly closed. But God opened the window and we have embarked on a ten-song TNL recording project! Stay tuned for more on that and also on some hymn re-writes our crew is pursuing! More closures creating openings.
We had the opportunity to participate in weekly Lent conversations, each including a song recorded by our crew. What a cool bonus to go deeper with our CrossRoads family in preparation for Holy Week! Nine of our worship family also committed to fasting and praying each week of Lent, meditating on Philippians 2:1-18. It was a challenging but rewarding time of sweeping sin out the corners of our hearts, learning about humility and intercession, and seeing God pour out fire on sacrifice.
Like other CrossRoads ministries, our Serves have opinions about the pandemic that cover all points of the spectrum. But one thing we’re united on is following Jesus as best we can together. Our technicians and musicians have stepped up, some serving multiple times in a month to bring the message of the gospel to Central Alberta. God has provided for all our needs, according to His glorious riches in Jesus (Philippians 4:19)! Huge thanks to our devoted worship family for their servant hearts in this season!
Though it feels like many doors have closed this year, Pastor Dan has reminded us that the most important door is still open, the one God has opened that cannot be shut (Revelation 3:8), giving us access to the Father through the complete work of Jesus on the cross. For this, we will never stop worshipping, never fail to sing! “Heaven is open! So let Your kingdom come!”
- Pastor Dallas