Worship and the Drama of Gospel

I am serving this week in a series of worship services focused on revival or renewal.  The sermons have focused on the condition of the heart.  I have found my own heart stirred as I have been reminded of the way the Holy Spirit works at the center of our beings, in other words, in the heart.  I have been reminded of life moments when my spiritual condition of heart was challenged.  I have been reminded of the drama associated with each of those scenarios, and have been once again drawn toward the way music can assist expression of this drama that rages on within the human heart.  Though touched intimately in this drama of the human heart, the worship also places me, and my heart in the totality of the Gospel drama that addresses the condition of the world.

One of the techniques I use when trying to encourage choir singers and/or singers in congregational worship to engage the dynamics of a song is to remind them that music is drama.  The very foundations of music structure cry drama: tension – release, dissonance – consonance, suspension – resolution, on the beat – off the beat, simultaneity or counteraction, and of course, loud and soft.  Where would musical expression be without these dramatic dynamics that make rhythm, pitches, and harmony come alive?  What does this have to do with Christian worship expression?  What could be more dramatic than the Gospel?  Music provides a wonderful opportunity for us to connect these drama arenas (Gospel and music) in our gathered worship, and thus to do theology, in a sense, by allowing the power of the art form to aid the exposure of the greatest power in the greatest story ever known, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  (for a much more indepth look at ways music and theology inform one another see writings or lectures by Jeremy Begbie, Duke University – see youtube link below for a teaser, and other links)

Of course, the Gospel drama is no cheap thrill.  To the contrary, the metanarrative of God’s story takes time to develop, and holds the dynamic power that is the very force of all creation.  It is, in fact, the essence of all history, known and unknown.  Christian understanding of biblical truth is that the entire Bible points us to Christ.  In the Old Testament, He is promised as the solution to our fallen condition and He is coming to live among us.  In the New Testament He arrives in our world, shows us how to live, is crucified, buried, and resurrected, and promises His return toward which all creation waits.  From beginning to end the point is Jesus Christ.

Too frequently I am afraid we set the bar way too low in corporate worship, enticed by our culture’s entertainment gluttony, we become preoccupied with holding people’s entertainment interest, which quickly becomes an elusive proposition.  What if we, instead, express a faith and expectation by giving the bigger picture and then helping to draw attention of gathered worshipers to experience this larger reality in the Gospel expressed through the arts (music, space, preaching, etc.)?  What if we faithfully engage worshipers in singing together to experience the corporate-ness of our gathered worship through both the theological expression of our corporate praise and the musical corporateness of shared song and singing.

I have offered this C.S. Lewis quote in a previous post, but I believe it well deserves re-posting here as reminder of God’s design for us as compared to our willingness to settle for pitiful substitute experiences.  May we rediscover the larger drama of the Gospel, and allow Jesus to lead us in the worship that has us “lost in wonder, love, and grace.”

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

–C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

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

2 Comments on “Worship and the Drama of Gospel”

  1. John Morris Says:

    I love the blog, Paul! Thanks also for the C.S. Lewis quote.


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