"Now it happened as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold,many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples." (Matthew )
This is not a common example of worship from Scripture, but where can we more find a picture of how to love God than in God loving us? In Matthew, chapter 9, this one-of-many table scenes is given to us. Jesus sits at the table, in the house, and meets with the unwanted. The Pharisees even point out this oddity by questioning, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus teaches us how to love in meeting the sinners at the table. If we want to love Him, then we go where He is and do what He does. He offers us a place at His table, in humility alongside sinners of which I am the worst, and we are welcomed there by grace-scarred hands.
United Pursuit Band aims to align themselves with this practice through offering a gathering place in a large warehouse they call home in Knoxville, TN. They have crowd-source provided recording equipment which they use to produce albums. And perhaps the way in which they most invite people to the table is through their live worship nights streamed to the nations.
Their community of hearts after Jesus began in 2006 in what they call the "Banks House" where a group of men and their music met and prayed. They sought the Lord and listened as they let Him develop their vision. After releasing their first quasi-real album, "Fishes and Loaves" they saw a desire explode among their followers and continued to provide intimate music to worship an intimate God.
Nearly While Reagan and United Pursuit serve melodies and lyrics instead of bread and wine, they serve Jesus to a world hungry for Him. , in 2012 after a UK tour, Will Reagan proposed that they set down roots and the band felt the Lord leading them to remain in Knoxville to, "expand our living room." By expanding their living room they have chosen to let the entire world (whomever has access to streaming internet) into their home, to join them at their 'table' while they enter into the throne room and worship our awesome God.
They recently released, Simple Gospel, an album recorded at the Fifth Avenue House (their new warehouse home) and as seen in the music videos it is literally just a gathering of people, lifting their hearts and raising their voices, to bow down before our beautiful One. They encircle an old piano, and stand on what looks like a thrift-store rug; there are exposed beams framing the group, and though the cement floor is cold beyond the rug, their common love for Jesus rises and fills the space with true koinonia- fellowship. This is worship.
In their title song, "Simple Gospel" the lyrics call us to an original understanding of what Jesus gave us- the taking of our burdens and the giving of His love as He invites us in to a relationship.
"I wanna know You, Lord, like I know a friend... I'm laying down all my religion. I'm laying down, I wanna know You, Lord. I will rejoice in the simple gospel. I will rejoice, in You LORD!"
Their video production is an echo of the simplicity in their songs and gives us a glimpse into the recording moments. Hands jet upwards, and soft light from table lamps illuminate the room, the band faces each other as they play, the crowd hugs them in and in one accord hearts pour out through lifted voices. Heads bow down and souls are melted in the Fifth Avenue House, in the presence of the King.
The album is littered with lyrics that catch the listener up into the reminder that God is good and has a future and hope for His children. One song which is a personal favorite for the present season I'm in sings,
"You're full of life, you're full of passion. That's how He made you, just let it happen. And He calls each one of us, by our names, to come away. And He whispers to your heart, to let it go and to be alive."
Andrea Marie is featured on this song, "Let It Happen". She sits humbly behind the dark wood piano, her hair falls around her cheeks, and she plays. The drums and base swell as she repeats, "He whispers to your heart, to let it go and to be alive." The bodies behind her sway with this freeing truth and the Spirit envelopes the atmosphere with His voice of purpose and provision.
Even as Jesus sat at the table, in the house, and welcomed those who were willing to experience Him, so this band, this group of regular people trying to humbly worship the Lord of all the earth, offers a space for those who are willing to join in and experience Him too. United Pursuit, an American band with a heart to enter into simple worship of an extravagant God, has given us an album that opens the door for us into that house with Jesus. The sound is chill, but swells powerfully with emotional crescendos. And the band appears to have an honest desire to bring God, alone, the glory. (That's awesome. We're praying for His glory and your joy in this endeavor, guys.)
Take a listen and see if they're coming to a city near you. If not, you can always tune in to that live worship night the first of every month, or stop by if you're in Tennessee and meet the crew personally. The Fifth Ave House is an open table.
Reviewed by Katy Collins