Learning to worship: Hymnology and Advent Convocations inspire
To kick off the last week of Convocation for the semester, the Liberty Worship Collective stood alongside an orchestra and choir to begin the Hymnology Convocation on Nov. 29.
Taking place at the end of every semester, Liberty students return to their traditional roots, singing hymns that reflect on God and scripture. The Vines Center was dark except for the minimal amount of light shining on the performers, giving the arena an intimate, candlelit-type atmosphere.
The Worship Collective, backed by their instrumental orchestra, sang well-known hymns such as “My Hiding Place” and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Vice President of Spiritual Development Josh Rutledge then took the stage and delivered a short message on the beauty of hymns and the different forms of worship. Rutledge started his message with a personal story about his father being in the Cleveland Clinic for a double-lung transplant.
“I remember one night, I was in the hotel, … (and) it was just a hard night,” Rutledge said. “I was trying to grab onto something, to feel some measure of stability, … (and) out of nowhere, this song bubbled up from the recesses of my memory; the song was a hymn.”
Rutledge continued to explain more about the song and how he listened to it until “it was less that I was listening to it as much as it became my prayer.”
Rutledge continued his story by noting that the hymn was the method of prayer that night and that music itself is a form.
“What I mean by a form is (that) it is something that holds something else,” Rutledge said.
Through an analogy about a plastic water bottle, he explained that without the form of a water bottle, you wouldn’t be able to drink the water, because “it’s serving as the channel to let me get to what’s inside of it into me.”
Rutledge continued to say that music can be used for good or evil. Both truth and lies can be absorbed through music consumption.
“I would argue that the enemy’s preferred medium to your generation is music,” Rutledge said.
Transitioning into the usage and meaning of hymns, Rutledge warned the audience not to elevate the form over the content of the message. Whether through hymns, contemporary Christian or Christian hip-hop, all have the power to act as a valid form.
“Be incredibly vigilant about what’s in the bottle,” Rutledge said. “Don’t make the mistake of trying to limit God to your preferred musical form.”
As Rutledge finished his message, he explained how cynicism is divisive and destructive to Christians.
“Instead of a cynic, learn to be a worshipper” Rutledge challenged. “Learn how to drink water from a different bottle than you’re familiar with.”
Following Rutledge, the Collective sang a few more hymns before Convocation was dismissed by Chancellor Jonathan Falwell.
Louie Giglio and Passion from Passion City Church in Atlanta took the stage for Advent Convocation, the last gathering of the semester.
The pastor and band are not foreign to Liberty as they have spoken and performed at multiple Convocations in recent years. For this occasion, Passion sang a combination of Christmas classics and contemporary Christian songs such as “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Tremble” and their own song, “Fall Like Rain.”
Giglio began his message in prayer.
“I don’t know if anybody is struggling with direction, but if you are today, I believe that God has a word for you,” Giglio said.
Giglio continued to explain that since Christians are children of God, they are not the ones to figure it all out, but rather they should fall into their relationship with God to alleviate that stress. Giglio then continued talking about Advent.
“Advent simply means that we are waiting in expectation with confidence that God is going to do something,” Giglio said.
This is what happened with the story of Christmas, where after around 400 years of waiting, there was a sudden appearance of God as promised by the prophets.
“This is how God works,” Giglio said. “God is always working behind the scenes for a ‘suddenly’ moment where he brings you into the story that he’s been working on the whole time.”
He said God gave us all a reason and a calling that God designed for a purpose even though we do not know what that entails. In contrast, Giglio explained that the enemy’s goal is to make Christians feel as if God does not have a plan or purpose for their life.
“What the enemy wants to do is cancel the faithfulness of God because of the circumstance you are up against today,” Giglio said. “What God wants to do is remind you that even if 400 years of nothing go by, he can suddenly break in and do everything he promised to do in your life.”
On top of this, Giglio explained how God is ultimately after our hearts.
“God is more interested in our desire than in our destination,” Giglio said. “If God was primarily interested in our destination, then he would have just given us the plan.”
He continued to note that there are things in God’s plans that Christians would not want to hear as it is guaranteed to involve suffering and hardships which generate or perfect faith.
“You weren’t made for a destination,” Giglio said. “You were made for God.” As Pastor Giglio closed his sermon, he quoted Isaiah 41:13, which says, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’”
Bessire is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X