Virtual Worship: Shepherd

In this time when we cannot gather as a traditional worshipping community next to one another, I invite you to take a few minutes of personal worship time in front of your screen. Use the parts that contribute to your connection with God and move to the next section, skipping those things that do not. I also invite your feedback.

We Gather

PRELUDE: During the candle, light a candle as the music plays.


Pray: We gather together in the presence of our Shepherd God,
who calls us each by name,
who restores our souls,
who leads us in the way of righteousness,
and whose goodness and love never stops pursuing us.
This is the God we have come to worship!

(based on Psalm 23 and John 10)

We Praise

OPENING HYMN: Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us


SPEAK: I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;*
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic** church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.


We Listen

PSALM OF PRAISE: The Lord is My Shepherd (Goodall)

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON: Ezekiel 34:11-16 (NIV)

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

The word of God for you and me, the people of God. (Thanks be to God.)

We Pray


(For a link to the source, click HERE.)

We Offer

OFFERING PRAYER: Good Shepherd, you generously give us all that we need. You guide us to safe places where you feed and heal us, giving rest and renewal. Thank you for taking care of us and restoring our spirits. In gratitude for your abundant blessings, we respond by sharing these tithes and offerings for the work of your church. May our ministries bring the new life that you intend for all people. We ask this in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen. (Psalm 23)

(For a link to the source, click HERE.)

(If you are looking to donate, you are invited to take a moment and give online to Kingwood United Methodist Church by clicking HERE.)

OFFERTORY SOLO: Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep (K. Lee Scott)

We Hear the Word Proclaimed



Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

SERMON: Dr. Burt Palmer

We Depart


Such a Time As This . . .


I’ve spent many years in ministry working through many unique happenings. Some were a part of my personal life while others were either natural disasters or developments within the local church (my professional life). It goes without saying that corona virus is unprecedented. I’ve spent time talking with staff members, conferring with colleagues and friends, and studying anything can could give me an idea how to manage ministry in this time of quarantine and social separation.

See , that’s the issue right there . . . social separation. In all of the past occurrences, we’ve sat in the same rooms, prayed with one another, embraced, went to homes, broke bread at the same table and solved whatever was before us. We brought our ensembles together to worship, sing, pray and praise. It’s what we do!

With the CDC recommendations that we must, for safety, limit our gatherings to fewer and fewer people, suddenly things have changed. It’s clear that the old ways of standing shoulder to shoulder holding hands won’t work. In fact, it’s highly discouraged. Not gathering together is hard.

Such a time as this . . .

I’m not sure where we’re headed. I pray that we are able to limit the sickness and death caused by the corona virus. As artists and creatives who depend on the gathering of people to artfully worship God, what can we be sure of?

God is doing a new thing. No, the disease is not the new thing. Don’t even go there. Rather, I think we are being brought together to think and act in new ways. Perhaps, we are even healing some of the old wounds inflicted by our political leanings. If you look closely . . . very closely . . . one can see the beginnings of a thaw in relationships. How can we as artists of faith contribute and not hinder?

Is that the new thing? Perhaps. Let’s see

“See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Such a time as this . . .


Dear KUMC Friends,

If you were at rehearsal Wednesday evening, you’ve certainly ascertained that I wasn’t there. I’m in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Southwest Division of the American Choral Director’s Regional Convention. I saw a post online that one high school student called, “ChoralCon,” which I thought was great. For those who don’t know, it’s a play on ComicCon, a huge comic convention where folks often come dressed as their favorite comic book hero. This student told their director that they should “go as Eric Whitacre,” the famous composer/conductor. That’s most-certainly a choir-nerd joke if I’ve ever heard one!

Why attend such a convention? It’s somewhat about friendships. I’ll be able to connect up with some friends that I haven’t seen for a while as well as meet new ones. In fact, on my drive up to Little Rock, it happened that there was a choral concert at my undergraduate alma mater, Henderson State University. I was able to visit with the new director and then spend some time yesterday hearing about the wonderful music at HSU. Even more interesting was that I met the son of a former classmate. He was singing in the concert and she wasn’t able to attend due to work. I stood in for her.


Next, it’s about immersion. A convention such as this is a time for listening to wonderful ensembles, visiting classes to learn new techniques for choirs, and to find out about music others are programming with their ensembles. I also get to be a singer — in this case with Director Emeritus for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Dr. Craig Jessop. I think it’s important for us director folks to step back on occasion and become singer folks — to remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the podium to improve the things that we do with you.

Maybe most importantly, it’s about rest and some self-care. We’ve done a lot of hard work at KUMC in a months since I arrived. And, we have more to do. In the short time at SWACDA, I’ve taken a bit of extra sleep and spent some time in personal reflection. Hard to believe that I have to drive 7+ hours to do that but it’s good to put a bit of space between me and Houston proper. Part of the reason that I’m able to do this is that I serve a church, work with a staff, and know an SPR team that sees the importance of health and recovery for those staff that serve in the church.

Finally, as I sit in my hotel room, I reflect on Exodus 18:17-27. Jethro comes to Moses and tells him that he should invest in capable people to assist him so that he doesn’t continue to exhaust himself. I feel that we’ve done that. Our church has invested in a capable and wonderful team team of musicians, enabling me to be here.  Thank you Barbara, Meredith, Stuart, Gary and Sheila for making ministry happen in my absence. Blessings to my wife as she continues on her school and work path.

I will return to the office on Monday, hopefully more rested and ready for more exciting things happening at KUMC.


Bitner’s Four Best Practices

Music conductor hands

Walter Bitner is a lifelong music educator who works as Director of Education & Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He write a blogpost called Off The Podium. I’ve been doing some personal study and review as I prepare for the upcoming worship season at KUMC. I ran across an blogpost he wrote about four practices that would help his students be intrinsically motivated as opposed to extrinsically motived. I thought that his writing was an excellent mirror in which to reflect the teachings of Jesus. And, considering how we tend to treat one another these days anyway, they have a lot of application in our daily lives.

It is important to say that I haven’t experienced any issues or problems here . . . but it is always good to keep such matters as how we treat others before everyone . . . love God, love neighbor.

Take a minute and read. NOTE: Where there are brackets, I’ve inserted words that apply to choir ensembles.

Four Practices

These are behavioral guidelines that help all of us in our interactions with others. This includes [directors] and [choristers] alike. [Choir members] are expected to strive to practice these in their interactions with the [director] and with each other.

Mutual Respect

I will treat others with respect at all times and can expect to be treated with respect by others, at all times. ‘Mutual Respect’ is sometimes described as the ‘Ethic of Reciprocity’ or ‘Golden Rule’.

Attentive Listening

When another is speaking, I listen. Listening means: not talking, not interrupting, not ignoring, and looking at as well as listening to the other. We listen with our whole selves, not just our ears.


Kindness is how we treat ourselves, others, and our environment, every day, and goes even beyond Mutual Respect. The practical rule of application for this practice is “Appreciations and No Put-downs”. Appreciations are what we do; put-downs are what we do not do. Appreciations are things we say to or do for others that make them feel good; put-downs are things that, if said to or done to others, would not. Actions or words that are unkind are unacceptable. An interesting observation about the concept of kindness is that the idea relates etymologically to that recognition that others and I are alike or “of the same kind”.

Best Effort

In all activities and at each moment I will do my best. This applies to my work in [choir,] my preparation for [choir] outside of [rehearsal,] and my interactions with others. By doing my best at all times I can live without regret and feel that my contribution to the [ensemble] is brought forth from the parts of myself that strive for the highest ideals.

To read all of Bitner’s blogpost, click HERE.

A Time to Study and Renew

Kingwood United Methodist Church Choir Room

Starting a new position May 1, 2019 as Director of Music at Kingwood United Methodist Church has been fun and exciting. The staff, congregation and the ensembles have been warm and friendly to me. And, it’s been an easier time starting at the end of a year, too, with a few less ensembles to meet. It’s allowed me a moment to study and understand the next steps our music ministry needs to take.

However, there has been a daily challenge . . . walking past an amazing rehearsal space and seeing it empty. I will freely admit, I’m ready for Chancel Choir rehearsals to resume on August 14!

Prepping for the Goodall REQUIEM.

It’s been a productive time. In addition to meeting and prepping the various music ministry choirs and teams for the Fall, I’ve been working on studying and learning the score for our major work in the Fall, Requiem: Eternal Light by Howard Goodall. And, I’ve been attempting to get the weekly anthems planned out, too. There’s much work yet to be done.

Now, it’s time for me. In the midst of this study and preparation, I’ll be leaving today to attend the Texas Choral Director’s Association Convention in San Antonio. I haven’t been in years and it will be a time to check out new music, attend some helpful workshops and see some old friends. And, I hope to be able to do some extra prep work on some of the many items on my to do list that require my attention.

It’s good to study and renew. I’m really looking forward to it.

Soli Deo Gloria,



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