Too Busy for Holy

They call it Holy Week.  In all of Christendom this week includes the highest days of the year.  The disciplined practice of the faithful over centuries has been to use the period from Ash Wednesday through the forty days of Lent to reflect on our own lives and to repent.  As Holy Week approaches the emphasis turns more and more away from our need of forgiveness and renewal toward what Christ has done to attone for our sins.  The apex is this week that starts with Palm Sunday and moves to Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Dark or Holy Saturday, and on to the celebrative Resurrection Day.  Christ followers surely take pause to revere these hours of remembrance and reflection…or do they?  How could those who have been forgiven not celebrate deliverance provided them by a Holy God in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus?  How could those who say their very identity is in Christ not be humbled in this time of festivity centering on Resurrection power; the victory over death and hell?

I highly suspect that the answer to most of these rhetorical questions is that we are just too busy, preoccupied with things of this world.  Our preoccupation with world-measured “success” and pursuit of leisure often overrides the cost of a disciple’s journey into a season of confession and cleansing.  Whether such a time is marked by a methodical observance of Lent with its liturgical prayers and private practice of humility and confession, or if it is a “Spring Revival” marked by bold preaching that calls the faithful to repentance, that fills church altars with humbled believers, the question is, “Is there time for such things these days in our churches and/or individual lives?  The notion of fasting or literally bowing humbly before God just takes time and attention away from the driven routines of business and leisure.  Is it any wonder that people in the pew seem not to participate meaningfully in voicing the songs of lament associated with the season, whether it is O Sacred Head Now Wounded, Sweetly Broken, or O the Wonderful Cross?  Though we will likely have the musical and technological forces blowing full blast on Easter Sunday morning, we must ask, “Are herald trumpets, brilliant videography, and raised light levels enough to cover up participation deficiency,?  Will a people who have avoided confronting their own sinfulness, to honestly sing “prone to wonder Lord I feel it,” know the song of genuine freedom?  If we were to literally sing a couple of verses of Christ the Lord Is Risen Today or In Christ Alone unplugged would we hear anything?

We have spent many years trying to attract people living in our culture by demonstrating how “successful” we are, and that success to be quantified and measured in the same terms as popular culture interprets – a la corporate America or a la American Idol in the case of us musicians.  My dear brother in Christ, David Platt, has challenged us boldly in his book, Radical, that challenges this spirit among Christians and in the church.  Is it any wonder that our people are much more consumed with doing than being?

How terribly sad that even in this season of high and holy days we hear of church strife, forced minister terminations, dejection and depression expressed by pastors who serve by preaching or those who lead worship through music.  The not-so-hidden agendas of game-players and power brokers in our churches take no break for Holy Week.  After all, they’re busy with a job to do…they need to make the church in their own image, God forbid.  Robert Wenz challenges us that while the Word calls us to “offer ourselves as living sacrifices” (Rom 12:1), the Apostle Paul immediately cautions not to be squeezed, “conformed” into the mold of the world, but to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)

Dear brothers and sisters, lead your people to worship in a manner that addresses the full story of the Gospel.  I challenge you to walk through the whole story of Christ this week.  I am praying diligently that you will be filled with the Spirit Sunday such that those consumed with the “American Dream” will be led to discover the King of Kings, the Lord of lords, the Triumphant Risen Christ who conquers death and hell, Who will come again and will reign forever and ever!

O to see the pain, written on your face

            Bearing the awesome weight of sin,

            Every bitter thought, every evil deed

            Crowning your bloodstained brow

            This the power of the cross

            Christ became sin for us

            Took the blame, bore the wrath

            We stand forgiven at the cross

                                    -Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

           

The horrifying beauty of the cross precedes the grave-emptying power of the resurrection.  Gaining whatever level of spiritual grasp on that reality we are capable of wrapping our hearts around can only enliven our Easter song:

Christ the Lord is risen today

            Sons of men and angels say

            Raise your joys and triumphs high

            Sing ye heavens and earth reply,

            ALLELUIA!

                                    -Charles Wesley

 

Earnestly,       

Paul

Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Leading Worship, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

2 Comments on “Too Busy for Holy”

  1. David Manner Says:

    Paul, great post…and timely as half of our worship leaders are contemplating quitting this week in response to the rigorous schedule of trying to get the monkey to climb the pole higher and higher. Love this quote: “Are herald trumpets, brilliant videography, and raised light levels enough to cover up participation deficiency?” No, but it doesn’t stop us from trying year after year. You challenged us to “walk” through the whole story this week…our normal speed is full bore making as much noise as possible. Thanks for the reminder…there is still time!

    • Paul Clark Jr Says:

      Very true my friend. Lord help us trust the Gospel to reflect its own power as we lift up the Risen Christ!


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