WORSHIP IN TRIUMPHANT TONES — IN LIGHT OF RESURRECTION

Church at sunrise  Sunday was Resurrection Day – Easter Sunday, and what a beautifully glorious day it was in Middle Tennessee.  We got to worship with our own church family, and then join with the church of one of our grown “kids.”  Grandchildren were all “dressed to the nines” (whatever that means) in Easter attire.  Our immediate family was able to be together Sunday afternoon and into the evening.  It was picture perfect, with grandchildren playing in the yard, and adults sitting and visiting on the back porch and patio.  Pictures from the day provided for good Facebook fodder, and replies from friends and especially fellow grandparents were in accordance with what you would hope pictures of family would bring.  Thanks facebook friends.  I loved everything about Easter Sunday this year.

I feel certain that for most of you who regularly read this blog, it goes without saying that the Norman Rockwell-esque idea of an Easter Sunday, while wonderful to experience in many ways, is not the essence of the victorious tone of Sunday’s worship.  Lest you think that is the only distraction we might have from the real essence of Christian worship on what arguably should be considered the highest of Sundays of the Church Year, consider this.  As I have had occasion to ask different people about Sunday’s worship in their church, I have heard more about how many were present, about exciting music, about unique sermons, and even about things “coming off without a hitch.”  I am aware that a wide variety of dynamics likely go into these replies.  I also recognize that I tend toward hyper-sensitivity to our (me included) mundane perception of what takes place in our gathered worship.  It concerns me, however, that the surface topics that tend to occupy our areas of response to one another regarding our worship are likely indicative of continual centering of our worship in our own experience, rather than in the high holy praise of God that resonates His Gospel story, and resounds with an unmistakable tone of definitive victory.

At its root, worship in light of the Resurrection of Jesus is victory.  The victory is so much more than a jubilant experience of a singular moment in time.  Rather than dragging God’ eternal victory into something we can experience in our “special moment,” Christian worship helps us recognize that all of human life is lived in light of resurrection power, set in the midst of God’s eternal story, which includes His ultimate eternal victory celebration.  Whether we are in worship on a “regular Sunday,” a high holy day, a special occasion of worship, or whatever, we worship in light of resurrection power. Therefore, while we are fighting life’s battle with and in darkness, worship reminds us that Christ is ultimate victor!  He has already won!  In the cosmos, Jesus is Lord!  In time’s continuum, Jesus is Lord!  Our churches, as bride of Christ belong to the Victor!  Whatever we are facing, Jesus is Lord!  Of course, this does not mean flippant, happy – clappy worship, but rather sets an undertone that should always be not far from the surface in our worship environments and expression.  Observe, the empty cross as one visible example.  There are so many needs and our worship reminds us of Whose we are, and victory that is His.

My thoughts turn to the hard reality of numerous challenges in lives of people that I know and love.  Worship ministers whose spouses are battling cancer and other physical maladies.  Other ministers who have serious health issues themselves.  The passing of loved ones, some having lived good long lives and others much earlier than anticipated.  I think of a former work colleague for whom a pending delivery of a new baby will be followed by immediate and lasting challenges of raising a down syndrome child.  I am burdened for worship pastors who struggle with questions about their viability as minister-musicians, because they have been dismissed from churches  are currently without places of service for their ministry that will support their families, and may struggle with lingering doubt.  In all of these circumstances, Jesus is Lord!  Resurrection power is at work in the battle.  Note I am surely not saying anything like, “don’t worry, everything’s going to go like you want.”  I am saying that in worship we reaffirm that our God is sovereign, and our faith and trust is rested in Him, and in the finished work of Jesus.  Gospel saturates the whole of life and living, and even declares clear victory over death and grave.  I hope you got to sing that more than once last Sunday.

What if every Sunday was Resurrection Sunday?  Oh wait….it is!  We know that fact from our five-year-olds Sunday School class.  That Gospel truth has not changed.  Our respect for Sunday may have changed as we give in to soccerdom, traveling baseball teams, and the like, but the last I checked Sunday remains what New Testament writers called the eighth day, the first day of the week, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.  So worship leaders, wise up, please.  This is a worship issue.  It has nothing to do with how “well” your songset went.  The number of worshipers may speak of a spiritual condition among the congregation, but be assured and assuring, the Gospel is alive and well!  The end of the story has not changed, nor will it change!

How can you help as a worship music leader?  Keep reminding them with sensitive spirit.  In singing worship “we are reminded of the continuing nature of our singing as response to the nature and presence of God.  We are presented with the theme of His deliverance, and are reminded of the victorious tone that must be sounded as an ever-recurring dynamic of our singing in theocentric worship.”[1]

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

            Sing ye heav’ns and earth reply, Alleluia!

 

[1] Excerpt From: Paul B. Clark, Jr. “Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/PCA0B.l

 

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, 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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