sunrise earth My life journey is relatively short.  Now grant you, I am unashamedly 60 years old and for some that seems ancient.  I get that.  At one time it seemed to me that anyone sixty was indeed, officially “old.”   But when I say my journey has been short I mean in relation to the complete span of history.  Something about grasping a perspective that my life on earth is finite – limited by time and space – seems healthy, even biblical.  Certainly, as a worshiper, this perspective seems important, since Christian worship invites me to engage my finite being with the eternal God of the universe, which of course is only possible by means of His provision in Christ.  And consideration of fine versus infinite is only one of the many mystery components of Christian worship.  As a worship planner and worship music leader, it seems important to  help worshipers under my pastoral care to interact in general with larger truth.  While there is inherent tension in worship, given that our God is at once transcendent, holy other, and intimate, closer than a brother, yet my experience has been that evangelicals tend to emphasize intimacy often to an extent that a sense of God’s transcendence can be lost.  Both aspects of God’s character must be presented in worship – both are essential to worship that wonders at larger truth.  Music and the arts can play an important role in presenting these characteristics.

Here are just a few questions to aid our consideration.  Let these help you develop a list of questions and/or begin a discussion with your pastor and other church leaders.  Consider your church’s regular worship services, and evaluate how well we are designing worship that addresses these issues?

  • Are we helping people to worship in light of God’s eternity?  We live in a world of “what’s happenin’ now?”  God is an eternal God (Gen 21:33; Romans 16:26), eternal King (Jeremiah 10:10), characterized by eternal love (1 Kings 10:9), who offers to us eternal life (Mark 10:17; John 3:16; 17:3) with eternal power (Romans 1:20), an eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) to whom will be all power, glory, and majesty forever (Jude 1:25).
    • Do the hymns and songs we place on the lips of our people help them grasp the eternal nature of God?  Does our worship space reflect this nature and its accompanying mysteries?  Do we engage in readings that draw the mind to wonder at the long gaze of eternity, and know of God’s presence there?
  • Are we helping people worship as stewards of the whole world?  Ours (all Christians) is a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  Certainly we are to be about making and baptizing disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and winning that which is lost (Matthew 15:24; Luke 15:4).  We also have responsibility to creation (Romans 8:18-21) and as stewards of God’s grace in service to others (1 Peter 4:10)
    • Are we singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that challenge our service as citizens of the Kingdom, the Church (capital “C”) of our communities, and as stewards of all that God has given?  Do we hear messages that help us see creation in its expectant state, recognizing our relation to its waiting in expectancy (Romans 8)?
  • Are we helping people grasp that all things are held together in Christ, Who was and is, and is to come? Col 1:15-17; John 1:1; 8:58; Hebrews 1:3
    • Do we sing of Christ’s sure ultimate triumph?  Do we share an assurance of His victory as well as our predictable sinfulness?  Are we helping people worship in a unified spirit where a right view of God supersedes any personal preference in musical style, or other tentative construct?  *Remember “contemporary” means “with temporary,” and “traditional” indicates “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, or action.”  The Gospel is more powerful to unite and hold together than “he that is in the world” is to divide and set apart.
  • Are we presenting the enormity of the Gospel, its implications for the whole world, and the profound truth that this grace is extended to us as a people, and as individuals, and that we are privileged to announce it to the world?
    • Do we sing the full range of address where we expose and confess our own sinfulness in humility, pronounce Christ’s atonement and declare His sufficient grace for these sins and indeed the sins of the world?  Are we sent to worship through living in service as Christ’s ambassadors, trumpeting His message, unashamedly?

In Christian worship we are repositioned attitudinally in our spirit, reminded again that “This Is My Father’s World,” He is “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise,” and that there is “No Other Name” by which we might be saved.  While we celebrate “10,000 Reasons” and therefore “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,”  we encourage one another to re-orient where we have lost our outlook.  Christian worship can certainly serve to adjust our perspective if rooted in the larger truth of God’s story as opposed to a strangled vision that looks only at my own life and its present circumstances.  Here we can again be reminded that I come “Just As I Am” to be mended, healed, and to have my heart tuned to sing God’s grace.  We can extend an invitation, “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” and be newly sent into the world to “Tell the Old, Old Story,” and to show the world that Jesus is “All to Us” and to display His likeness “By Our Love.”

A coming blog will deal with musical means and limitations of communicating larger truths.

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, 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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