Kirk Franklin on New Years Day

When I heard that Kirk Franklin was coming to Willow Creek on Jan 1,2 I changed my travel plans to make sure I was here…for all 3 services.  Kirk has been a premier gospel artist for nearly 2 decades. His mission was to take gospel music and to broaden its range beyond the traditional gospel audience without losing its message.  I could just say it was awesome and leave it at that – but if I reflect on it a little deeper, I was struck by two things over the weekend:

First, sometimes Kirk Franklin is portrayed as a high energy artist geared towards praise and celebration.  I would never argue with that, but that stops short of what we experienced this past weekend. One of my favorite moments was during the song Imagine Me.  This song asked the question, can you imagine me letting go of the past, becoming free, trusting God.  Hearing thousands of people singing, “gone, gone, gone, all gone” is a powerful sound.  This weekend we experienced opportunities to celebrate the best of life and to say goodbye to the worst of life.  Even as you read this, is there something in your life that has continually been a struggle in the past?  Is there something that you’ve been carrying with you day after that you want to get rid of? Are there voices in your past that are whispering lies to you?  If you want to say goodbye to all of those things and be reminded that once we choose “life to the full” those things are gone.  Take a minute and listen to Imagine Me right now and just open your hands and tell God what it is you want to let go of.

The other thing I appreciated this past weekend is how our perspective was broadened.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve felt really called to broaden my perspective, both in musical style and in cultural understanding.  I’ve grown tremendously in my appreciation of gospel music in the last decade.  As a white, suburban kid I could easily just listen to traditionally white rock music and miss not only the rich heritage of gospel music, but also an entire cultural perspective.  Ultimately, when we stand in heaven, Revelation 7:9 tells us that we will experience worship from every cultural perspective (“every tribe, tongue, and nation”).  While on earth, I want God to broaden my perspective to more fully understand the Kingdom of God, and ultimately, understand more clearly who God is. As you are at the start of this new year, how are you broadening your perspective this year?  Maybe we could begin together by praying this prayer:

“God, I know that what I see now is only “in part”, but one day I will see clearly.  I pray that this would be a year where I see you more and more clearly everyday.  That I would say goodbye to the things behind me and press on towards a greater vision of Your Kingdom and Your church.  God, may there be a New Year’s Revolution in my heart.”


P.S.  …and I got to be on stage with Kirk Franklin…how awesome was that!?!

Posted by Aaron Niequist on 01.05.11 under Lead Worship, Weekend Experience.

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