In the final weeks of 2017, Communion Arts‘ founder Blake Flattley was commissioned to create a new liturgy for the Church. He asked me if I would help him write it. Even though I was on a self-imposed hiatus, I agreed to meet him at a coffee shop in Long Beach. I told him clearly that I wouldn’t begin any work on it until January or later; still, I jotted down a quick list of possible themes before we met. I passed the pad of scrawled thoughts across the table and Blake quickly tapped his finger. “Fear Not! This is the one,” he said. I agreed. Fear Not! was the message the world needed to hear and something the Church was uniquely gifted to proclaim.
Days later I found myself sitting at a keyboard noodling notes for antiphons. The thing is, I don’t play the piano. Next thing I knew I was on the floor—my favorite creating spot—with stacks of old hymnals and bulletins from compline services I’d created in the past. I wanted there to be an opening hymn to clearly set the theme, but there was nothing that spoke to me. I was pondering this problem in the shower when suddenly I heard the signature song Fear Not!, lyrics and music and everything. I ran dripping with a towel to message Blake. He talked me through how to download the My Memos app so I could save it and send it to him. And so the days went as we allowed the liturgy to find its voice.
On September 8th, 2019, we debuted Fear Not! A Liturgy for Anxious Times at Bethany Lutheran Church in Long Beach. All who gathered were blessed with a quiet space for prayer, silence, Scripture, poetry and song—a contemplative moment carved out of our harried chronos time to speak to the anxious hearts of people both inside and out of the church.
In late February, 2020, during the early weeks of the Coronavirus pandemic, we were making arrangements to livestream the service from a chapel. Then everything closed down and we all went indoors. We continued to talk thru how we might present it with any kind of quality finally arriving at a workable online solution—”one take, from two homes, while Blake’s three young daughters were napping.” We released it on April 22, 2O2O, while most of the world was still under stay-at-home orders. We pray it is a source of peace to an anxious world.
Soli Deo Gloria