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A New Song

Sermon - 4/15/12
Andra Moran
First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon


[Guest preacher Andra Moran -- http://www.andramoran.com]


Good morning. I am the reason we are late getting started :) I am also Andra Moran. I'm going to talk really fast through this entire sermon -- ready?! I've set my clock -- it's on Nashville time, so we should be done by now!



Give Yourself To Love
Kind friends all gathered 'round, there's something I would say:
That what brings us together here has blessed us all today.
Love has made a circle that holds us all inside;
Where strangers are as family, loneliness can't hide.
You must give yourself to love if love is what you're after;
Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter,
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.
I've walked these mountains in the rain and learned to love the wind;
I've been up before the sunrise to watch the day begin.
I always knew I'd find you, though I never did know how;
Like sunshine on a cloudy day, you stand before me now.
So give yourself to love if love is what you're after;
Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter,
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.
Love is born in fire; it's planted like a seed.
Love can't give you everything, but it gives you what you need.
And love comes when you're ready, love comes when you're afraid;
It'll be your greatest teacher, the best friend you have made.
So give yourself to if love is what you're after;
Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter,
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.
Give yourself to love, if love is what you're after;
Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter,
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.


Did you know that your church is very super-high-tech? I got a cool lesson from April and Dan, all about how I can use my phone to. . . . control things :) It's really cool. So when I point it at you, I'd like you to smile or laugh appropriately :)

I live in a pretty conservative city. It's progressive for the South, but it's still the South. When I was preparing what I was going to speak about this morning during the message, I thought "I don't know if I could get away with this at home, so I better take my shot while I've got it". Here we are in a progressive city, so I'm going to talk about aliens. Cool? OK -- don't tell anyone from Tennessee :)

I was imagining to myself, a singer-songwriter living in Music City USA, with my singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist husband, we live in a house with no pets and lots of guitars, 2 pianos, a drum kit, and a bunch of other crazy things that make a lot of bang and clang and strums and hums. And I was wondering what it must be like when aliens look down on planet Earth and see billions of people spending most of their time occupied and pre-occupied by playing with and listening to tonal patterns. How strange it must be for the aliens. Because I bet you there are so puzzled by what we are doing.

Music is central to human life. It's in our cribs, with those mobiles that hang over the crib and play a little song. We have it in our wedding marches. We have it in funeral dirges. Music is part of every bit of our lives. And it's interesting, I'm reading this book called "Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks, and he is a Neurologist, a very famous, well-known scientist and author who has written about a lot of different things, but his latest research is really hinging on music. I'm only about 1/4 of the way through the book, but in the book he talks about how neurologists and scientists and researches are really baffled by music in the brain because it's very clear that music lodges itself in the audio-cortex of the brain, but also in different processing centers in the brain, and yet they can't figure out how it got there, because it's kind of present even in newborn babies. And they're very confused. And Oliver Sacks, who calls himself a Jewish atheist, I was thinking about that, and thought, hmmm, I didn't go to Columbia, but I can tell you how we got music in there. It's 3 letters -- G.O.D. God gave us music. And I am so thankful for that, every single day.

We walk through our lives surrounded by music, but how often do we really tune into the soundtrack of God? There's a man in my church right now that's running the capital campaign, and he's really cool, I have a lot of admiration for him. He was talking last week about how when we give, when we are stewards of our time and talent and treasure, that we become more like God because God is a giver by nature. God gave us Jesus, and so when we give we are emulating God's behavior and we are becoming more like God. That set me to thinking that God, as a creator, well, when we create, we are copying God's behavior.

I tend to create most with songs, but I also do other things. Maybe you do to. Maybe you have to get out your MapQuest and get creative with the route you're going to take so that you can pick up someone who is recovering from surgery and not yet able to drive on the way to church. Maybe you have to get creative with how you break down your paycheck at the end of each month. Maybe you have to get creative with the words that you write in a get-well card to someone who is going through a dark season in their life.

We're all creators, created in God's image. We continue to create. And in doing so, we are becoming more like God. When we offer the gift that we've been given -- of creativity -- back to God, that helps us become more in tune with who God is.

When I think of the story of God creating the heavens and the earth, I really wonder what the soundtrack was. You know, when God scattered the stars -- what was playing? What music? When God formed a little rhinoceros, what was playing? What music was going through God's big ol' ears? What do you think?

These are the things that keep me up at night. Also Dutch Bros coffee, which I discovered for the first time yesterday, and 3 times since :). It's really good! My new drink of choice is called the "Annihilator", so if you were at the concert last night, I talked a lot faster last night, because I had just had one. It was really great. But really, these things do keep me up at night because I'm just fascinated by what God might hear. Because, when I try to understand and imagine who God is, or what God is, or how God is, I hear a song. I hear a song that moves me. God's song surrounds each one of us in ways that we feel and see and experience, but don't fully understand.

Just like Oliver Sacks. It's in all of those cortexes, but how did it get in there? I don't know, how did we get so lucky as to have a God like our God? How did we get so lucky to be children of the living, loving God? How did that happen? I don't know, but I know that I want to experience that God in so many ways. I know that I want to be always open to seeing and hearing and feeling God's presence in the world. And I'm trying everyday to do that. It's not easy. But this is a song that I wrote some years ago with a friend of mind named Josh Elson, and it helps me kind of 'reset' myself when I'm having a hard time looking for God in the world:

To Love You

Give me new eyes to see what’s around me
Give me new ears to hear what you say
Give me a heart that wants to be willing 
To love you, to love you

Trust, understanding, courage and hope
Freedom beyond what we already know
Forgiveness, compassion
To love you, to love you

I have been really thinking about that soundtrack idea, the soundtrack of God, what God's soundtrack might be. And I was thinking, how cool would it be to be able to tune into God's soundtrack? Because I know my soundtrack is probably a little different than God's soundtrack, wouldn't you think? If I could just change my radio station in my brain, that would probably be a good thing for me. So when someone cuts me off in traffic and I'm angry and I hear pounding drums :), maybe I need to tune into God's soundtrack (change my radio station) and hear: "Here's a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note-for-note, don't worry, be happy". Maybe that is God's soundtrack for that moment, maybe.

Or maybe when I'm having an argument with somebody close to me, maybe instead of hearing in my head "Nah, nah, nah, nah, I was right, you didn't load the dishwasher!", maybe I should tune into God's soundtrack and maybe I should hear that '90s classic "I takes two to make a thing go right". You remember that song? Everyone is like. . . . no. . . . . :)

Or, I wonder if, when I am struggling and feeling alone, or when I've suffered a loss or a betrayal, maybe instead of having a pity-party where I play depressing music, maybe I tune into God's soundtrack, and I hear "There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God". Maybe that's what I hear when I tune into God's soundtrack.

Music is such a part of our culture. We hear it wherever we go. Steven and I do a lot of traveling for what we do, and music is a huge part of American culture, but it's also a global thing. But in Europe, I've found that when we were in France for several weeks in October this year, really, music got trumped quick, by food :) And wine :) And chocolate :) When we were in the south of France, in this great little village, we were doing a conference there with a bunch of college students and young pastors who are trying to do some edgy things in France, and they started singing this song, and I looked over at Steven and said "These French people are obsessed with food" :) Here we are, in a worship setting, and they are singing this song called "Soufflé fragile". Soufflé, that's a good word, we all know that word, right? And I'm watching these people sing a hymn about how God is like a fragile soufflé. That's weird. I mean, does anybody else think that's weird?

And so we go to lunch afterwards, and the pastor is picking on us because Americans are kind of easy targets, right? It's really funny, the things they make fun of us for, and very charming, to hear the things that they observe about us, because they're mostly true. And so I got to quip back to him "Well, at least in America we have legit praise and worship songs, we don't sing about soufflés". And he's like "What are you taking about, we don't sing about soufflés". And I said "Uh huh", and I sang it by tune . . . . and he starts laughing, he thought that was funny. No, no, no, no
, Chérie, it's not 'soufflé', it's a 'Soufflé. Oh. OK. So I have to think for a minute -- that one little accent that was missing, it wasn't a soufflé, it was a Soufflé -- a breath, like a fragile breath. That's a whole different ball of wax :) An embarrassing ball of wax, let me tell 'ya.

But I did find it interesting that the French people are tuned into God experientially. In a different way than we are. So many of their hymns talk about a hunger and a thirst for God. Things that we actually ingest into our bodies. They take in God fully. God goes coursing through their very veins. That's amazing. And that's what music does for me in our culture. We thought it might be fun to sing you one of those French songs about taking God in. It's a familiar melody to us in America, but their version talks about thirsting for God. I am thirsty for your presence. So we'll sing one verse in French, and another verse in English.


My friends, whether you are a songwriter or a banker, you do need God. Whether you are a songwriter or an architect or a secretary or a Mom or a Dad or a gardener, you gotta have a little bit of a connection to God through creativity. And tap into that new song that God puts in each one of our hearts.

I'd like to close this morning with the idea that when we sing once, we really pray twice. And so I'm going to invite my friends, the New Celebration Singers, to sing this last song with me. And I'm really hoping that you will enjoy singing it with us. Now, I'm not from around here, so at 11:00, do you stand up when you sing? Good -- let's stand up. That's the best way to get your breath going. And you know, songs carry on the breath, like a soufflé, remember?

Thank you so much for being so nice to us while we've been in Eugene, we've been having a really good time. The way this song works is that I'm going to sing a line, and then you sing it back:


New Song (Number 40):

i waited patiently
i waited for you to hear me
you listened you heard my cry
you lift me higher and higher

you give me a new song to sing

you set me on solid ground
protect me, your love surrounds me


la la la yeah…


i waited patiently
i waited for you to hear me
you give me a new song to sing
la la la yeah…


Let's pray: God, thank you for helping us tune into your soundtrack. We need those songs of peace and hope and love and joy. All the songs that come from you, God, we need those running through our minds. Help those words of hope to be the things that are stuck in our head. Help us to be free of all that binds us, and to be liberated with the new song that you put into our mouth. A song of praise to you. Amen.


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