Saturday, July 31, 2010

Loving Worship From a New Perspective

I've been so blessed to have had the strength to continue to lead worship through my treatments, but most recently I've had to step aside for a couple of weeks.  I just haven't had the strength for many tasks, I tire quickly, and I found that the exertion of singing (even with correct vocal technique) wears me out.  I'm so grateful for our Worship Pastor Mick Nichols and others who are leading in my absence.

Last Sunday morning I woke up thinking, "I can't believe I'm not going to church today."  I felt a real sense of loss, not because I wasn't going to be on stage in front of people (God broke me of that in the 80's!), but because there was going to be a party, and I wasn't going to be there.

I was raised in a small, old-fashioned Baptist church, but there was one element of each worship service that the pastor hit right on the head.  As a young boy, I remember that at the beginning of worship each week this larger-than-life hero of mine (in reality, he was pretty large) in a black suit would step to the pulpit and call us to worship with his beautiful booming baritone voice.  Unlike so many modern pastors and worship leaders who begin worship with chit-chat or a stand-up comic routine (as if we've gathered to spend time with them), Pastor Floyd would intone the words of scripture,

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go up to the house of the Lord.'"

So last Sunday, I awoke rather "un-glad" because I wasn't going to the house of the Lord.  Now the doctors have been telling me, "Mr. Price, this is a time when you have to listen to your body."  They're all right, but I'm getting kinda tired of listening to my currently uncooperative body!  So around 9:30 I told my body to get dressed; we were going to church.  Charlene and I arrived at the last minute, parked in the rear lot and  sneaked into the back for the 10:30 service.  While my body was in pain and protested a bit, my spirit was fed by the worship, prayers, reading of scripture and John's sermon.

I'm still not 100% and unable to lead this weekend (Aug 1), but I attended worship tonight and plan to return tomorrow morning.  Again, I was moved and strengthened by being there with other worshipers.  As I drove to church, I didn't have the normal pressures of an upcoming "performance" (you understand my use of the word.  There are hundreds of "performance elements" that comprise each service; logistics that the worship leader, media team, ushers and others have to pay attention to for things to go smoothly), so I was able to prepare myself mentally for meeting with God.  Following the Hebrew pattern for worship, I asked myself, "What am I coming to give in worship, and what do I want to receive?"  Coming to worship to give something to God (at least beyond the normal offering) isn't the way we often approach the weekly gathering.  But if I want to be a blessing to God and bring him joy, it's appropriate for me to think of giving something to him.  Of course, I should surrender him the things that I shouldn't have in the first place; self-sufficiency, worry, sin, etc., but beyond this I should approach worship to give him thanks, praise and service.

As a worship participant (never an audience who only comes to listen or a spectator who only comes to watch), I found that I could make that giving and receiving connection with God when I focused on the lyrics of the songs, the words of the prayers and the text of scripture.  This may be more difficult than you think, but it's especially true for a musician.  We most often engage God's gift of music to express praise, prayer and scripture, but it's very easy for us to get distracted by the beauty of the music.  I'm so thankful for a worship team that realizes that by their song selection, they determine what words I get to say to God in worship and what the songs tell me about Him.  For the last couple of weeks, Mick has chosen songs that allow me to say to God (and give to God) what I need to say and songs that allow me to hear God say to me what I need to hear.  Often I was so moved by the lyric that I could not...really, didn't need to make a sound.  Perhaps those moments of awe-struck silence are the ones God most yearns for.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Didn't See THAT Coming!

Silly me.  I thought, "Okay, finished with chemo/radiation on Monday...I ought to start feeling a little better each day now!"


I really thought I had dodged a bullet with my side effects being so moderate throughout this process.  I breezed through week one and two without a hitch.  By week three, my doctor was amazed and asked, "Are you taking the medication?"  Except for a rather unfortunate ER episode which I hope to never relive, I pretty much sailed through the 28-day treatment.  I rang the bell on Monday and walked out with a smile on my face.

Then came Tuesday.

I went to work on Tuesday morning and made it through half the day.  It was our wedding anniversary (#26!), so I picked up some roses and took them to our favorite restaurant (Sushi Nishiki, of course) so they would be waiting for us at the table when we were seated (I can be very sneaky that way).  I went home and was feeling kinda tired, so I decided to take a nap for awhile.

I don't remember much more about Tuesday, and Wednesday was even worse.  I woke up exhausted on Wednesday morning and pretty much slept my way through the whole day.  I can't remember ever having a day like that, a day full of weird dreams and dreaming about dreaming.  Totally, completely exhausted.

Okay, so now I realize that my body is working really hard to heal itself from 28 jolts of radiation and I shouldn't expect that after pumping myself with 89,600 mg of Xeloda (I did the math) that I'm going to be able to jump up and play flag football (duh!).

They say that inside every adult male there's an invincible 18-year-old boy who wants to go out and play.  I just told my 18-year-old to go to his room and leave me alone.

At this point I would love to conclude with some deep  nugget of theological truth, but frankly I'm just too tired.  When my kids were young, I used to LOVE when we'd assume this position and snooze together.  This is kinda where I am with God right now, and it feels pretty good.

Thank you for praying for me.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Celebration Day - Ringing the Chemo Bell

When you complete your round of chemo at the Mayo Clinic, you get to ring the bell in the waiting room to celebrate (click for YouTube video).  I've watched others ring that bell for the last month, and today was my turn!  It was great to have friends and family with me to celebrate this morning.

The next big task for me is to get my strength back and be ready to travel to VA in three weeks to take Blair to college.  We'll get back to town on Aug 31, play a couple of rounds of golf then have surgery to remove the (now hopefully dead) cancerous tumor on Sept 9.

Thanks for your prayers and wonderful words of encouragement through this long process.

BUT, there's no way my chemo celebration can top this one!!