Elizabeth's New Album and the Journey of The Arrival

These last two Sundays marked the beginning of our Advent journey called The Arrival. This series was crafted around the new musical work by Elizabeth, our Pastor of Worship, and the traditional themes that mark the Advent journey. Her album is available for purchase here and details about her Bay Area Christmas Concert on December 12 are here. Elizabeth writes this about her album:

ehunnicuttsmAs I planned for this record I had a desire to not only sing Christmas songs, but also songs for the season of Advent – a season of longing and waiting. Though Christ has already come, we remain in a world that is not yet perfect. We long for things to be made right, and for the day when Christ will come again. “The Arrival” is a mix of both songs that cry out for things to be restored, and songs that celebrate that God is now with us. Half of the songs on the album originals and the other half are remakes of some of my personal Christmas favorites, including “O Holy Night.”

As Elizabeth notes, there exists a tension between what's already happened (Jesus' birth) and what is yet to come (the world being made right). This is the mystery and beauty of Advent, an integral part of our dream to see heaven and earth woven together again.

Each week throughout our teaching series, we've paired a theme or characteristic of Advent with Scripture using a guiding song from Elizabeth's album. In this way, Elizabeth's album is more than the soundtrack or accompaniment to our Advent journey; the journey has actually been shaped by the music that's been stirring throughout her creative process.

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We'll be singing and learning from these songs together as we move towards Christmas and we'd love for you to journey through this season using Elizabeth's album as a key resource. It will shape our collective journey as well as your personal journey towards Christmas and the reality of the world God is creating through Jesus.

An Open Door Story: Caitlyn Littrell on the Tune Circle

circles_banner_mini My husband, Ryan, and I are new to Open Door, so we decided the best way to really figure this place out was to immerse ourselves. We did this by joining four of the five Fall Circles. We liked that each Circle had a beginning and an end date, and we were very intrigued by all of the topics. So we ditched our normal precedent of keeping our schedule as open as possible and signed up, starting with a four-week Circle called Tune led by Dave and Krissy Kludt.

In the weeks since the Circle concluded, Ryan and I have continued to process, discuss, and practicewhat we learned. We have started to incorporate rest, lament, celebration, and reconciliation into our daily lives based on what we explored with this group. I loved that we took all the discussion and learning from Tuesday nights and were encouraged to immediately start working that out in how we actually live. I was particularly excited for the Tune Circle, because it was all about worship. Singing worship music in church on Sundays is one of my favorite parts of my whole week, and I was looking forward to learning ways to expand my worship experience. Dave and Krissy opened their home every Tuesday night for four weeks, and we gathered on their patio to explore worship in various forms. Right away it was a transformative experience. The Kludts led us in different practices of worship using reading, meditation, writing, discussion, art, food, and—my favorite—a dance party. The group was full of amazing, authentic people and through their willingness to risk and experiment, my faith and understanding of worship deepened.

TUNE web bannerOne of the biggest changes we have made is to pursue rest in the form of taking a Sabbath. We are still working out how this will look, and some of our Sabbaths have been more successful than others, but it has been rewarding to see this practice as a way to worship Jesus. I will treasure the people I spent those four Tuesday nights with, and I will continue to see worship as the way I respond every day to Jesus and what he has done for me. I am thrilled to be on this Circle journey with Open Door.

Everyday Story: Practicing Sabbath


As part of our Tune series, Elizabeth taught on rest as a practice of our worshiping family (listen here).

Rest challenges the common notion that our value is linked to our productivity.

Rest - sabbath - is a rhythm we're invited into and a good gift offered to us by God.

At the Open Door Gathering a few weeks ago, Chris and Kate Schwass shared an Everyday Story about their family's journey with sabbath as a sacred and weekly practice of worship. Here's the audio of their story:

[audio mp3="http://www.abluedoor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Everyday-Story-Sabbath-with-Chris-and-Kate-Schwass.mp3"][/audio]


Listen in.

Consider the beauty and possibility of sabbath as a good gift offered to you by God.

Share your own story, thoughts, or questions below.

Why Tune? Why Worship?

A few weeks ago, we started a conversation about what it means for Open Door to be a family that worships together and we'll be on this journey through the end of September.

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We care deeply and are shaped by a desire to be a place of formation (rooted in Christ, woven together, cultivating others and extending love to others) but recognize that in order to faithfully live as a formative community, we must deeply embrace our identity and vocation to grow as a worshiping family.

Words shape reality and the way we talk about worship and family informs and shapes the way we actually live out our calling together. Here are some working definitions we’re exploring through Tune: The Sound and Soul of a Worshiping Family.

Soul (Identity) :: Individually, we are all beloved children created in God’s image. Together, we are a family gathered to follow in the way of Jesus.

Sound (Vocation) :: We are called to extend the reign of God here in the East Bay and beyond so that heaven and earth are woven together.

Worship :: Our lives lived in response to God’s extravagant love made real in Jesus

Family :: To be family is to receive our identity as God’s beloved child and to believe that what God has done through Jesus worked, shaping and forming us together for participation in extending God’s reign.

Elizabeth broke down worship into three steps, using definitions above to frame worship in the context of identity and vocation:

Revelation :: The God of extravagant love is revealed to us and continually draws closer to us.

Relationship :: As God draws closer, we're invited into a dynamic and unmediated relationship with him. Through the work of Jesus and empowered by God’s Spirit, we’re called together in relationship with others as a worshipping family.

Response :: In response to the God who's revealed and pursues relationship with us, we worship. Our lives are lived in such a way that reflects and extends God’s love. Worship is holistic - spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental.

Worship is individual as well as communal.

Worship shapes our identity and vocation.

Worship involves creativity and practice, our bodies as well as our minds.

Worship is key to our formation and our participation in the extension of God’s kingdom in the East Bay and beyond.

This holistic vision of worship is what Paul writes about in Romans 12 as he encourages the community of Jesus followers (us!) to offer our bodies - our full selves with nothing withheld - as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the God who’s revealed himself to us.

This is the true and proper worship we want to tune into during this season and beyond!