The Powerful Hand is a music project created over the course of two years or so. All the material came out of songs I wrote for Sunday mornings at a church community called the Kansas City Boiler Room. While the music was written for the purpose of congregational worship, we wanted to make something a bit more authentic in expression than traditional formulas of contemporary worship music. At the same time, we wanted it to be worship in spirit and in truth. So thematically, the vast majority of the album is taken from scripture or hymns. The form of the album very loosely follows a liturgical structure. There is ascent, repentance, thanksgiving, and resurrection, of course. I came under the impression at some point in the process of writing worship songs that a lot of people in the past have “said it better.” By this, I mean the psalms, ancient hymns, prayers, etc. Writing a ‘new song unto the Lord’ is often best done through echoing ancient words through the filter of your own honest, musical expression.
The coming of Christ is the beginning of Christianity. Christians are those who know that Christ has come and who look for his final appearing, the hope of glory. To re-member is an essential element of our worship. Recalling the past coming of Christ prepares us for his future return. This is how we remain a Eucharistic community, remembering his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension and final return.
Christ is the fulfillment of all of Israel’s prophetic hopes and expectations. He is the true Vine, the true Israelite who fulfilled all righteousness, a righteousness never achieved until the incarnation of the God-Man, fully divine and fully human, who stretched out his arms upon the cross, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world. Thus, Christ is the True Man, the Second Adam, who remained perfectly obedient, victorious under trial and faithful to the completion of his redemptive mission.
The Liturgical Cycle and the Sanctification of Time
The Church is preparing to enter the New Year, commencing this first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd. In structuring our lives and worship around the liturgical cycle of the Church calendar, we seek to sanctify time. Something mysteriously happens in and through all of our feasts, as we offer up worship to the King of Glory. Something happens in my life as I fix my eyes on Jesus in the liturgical cycle of the Church. This is what Alexander Schmemann calls the sanctification of time.1 You see, in the fall of the human race, time began to travel towards death. Psychologists have observed that the human condition is always attempting to escape the ultimate awareness of death. To live in time is to know and observe finality. The young eventually grow old. Nothing is permanent. Thus, time is the very icon, a picture of our fallen world under death’s reign.