A LITURGY OF NARCISSISM

Perhaps you have seen the video “Sunday Morning” on YouTube or Vimeo, which pokes fun at a rather predictable “contemporary,” “relevant,” or as the video indicates in this instance, “contemporvant” way of doing worship based on a kind of mood trip.  In this liturgy of narcissism central questions might be,

 

“What did I get out of worship today?”

“Am I getting what I want?”

“Is this making me more of who I want to be?”

 

Quoting mentor and author Robert E. Webber, the three areas of consideration for worship and worship planning are content, form, and style, but the greatest of these is content.  Content in Christian worship is the essence of what worship is, who it is for and about according to the very Word of God.   Worship of our Triune God is empowered by the Holy Spirit, centered in the Gospel of Jesus, and based upon His Word.  If content is unsound then form and style are moot points.  Form is the next area of consideration as we think about what shape worship takes in our communion with God, and the final area of contemplation is style.

 

The spoof video mentioned above draws attention to the form and style of worship.  Absent content, form and style hold no value.  Likewise, aiming for emotional manipulation simply to evoke feelings is valueless for Christian worship.  Oh, it can certainly be effective, even when it is completely lame.  Sadly, its most powerful effect may be that persons think just because they felt something, evoked by sad or glad songs, goosebump-producing video, or loudly authoritative preaching, they have had a spiritual encounter.  Placing the name of Christ in the midst of such emptiness seems nothing short of sacrilege.  Far too often the point of such liturgy is simply a view of self, albeit the self we think we want to see.  We start with a big song, move through stages to get to a “just me and God” moment.  If we get there, we fool ourselves to think we are satisfied, only to find we quickly thirst again.  And rightly so, for no religious feeling will ever suffice.

 

Essentially, when talking about form we are considering the shape of our worship, our communion or encounter with God.  Of course, many churches have set liturgy or order of worship.  In other traditions including Baptists worship order is not prescribed, even though it often follows a rather predictable liturgical pattern.  Congregations trust that the worship planners (pastors and/or music or worship ministers) will lay out worship in a prayerful and thoughtful way that will help worshipers engage with God.  I would venture to say there is an expectation that worship planners would remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit for guidance while also maintaining awareness of who makes up the worshiping congregation.  Biblical worship seeks to frame the connection of God and man.  Faith is rooted in Biblical truth.  God Incarnate is among the worshipers.  The Spirit’s work empowers Word, said and sung, to engage hearts and minds.  The resultant vision is Christ Jesus.  Worshipers depart to serve, patterning life and love after the One they have seen by light of Spirit and the Word.  Rather than seeing a “better me” I have seen a perfect, Risen Christ.

 

God, help us to form our worship that we may be formed to better see and reflect Jesus.

 

‘Til He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

 

 

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

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