Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Hungry Worshipper Part 3

To conclude this little study, let's consider how to get from here to there.

This aesthetic leaves a great deal of freedom. But it is largely subjective to the musically untrained. We as a people first need to be trained in worship, by being led and educated by those who have musical training and have studied worship specifically. When a bank wants to train its tellers to recognize counterfeits, they begin by having the tellers handle lots and lots of real cash. Then when the counterfeit passes, the trained hand feels the difference even if it cannot tell precisely which forging techniques were used. This is the same idea. Let people practice lots of thoughtfully and Biblically constructed worship under the direction of ministers who have wrestled with this, not in light of what pleases men, but in light of what pleases God. Then we will recognize the real thing and resist the counterfeit.

The goal is to have a NATION of priests, everyone understanding what is good and beautiful and acceptable in God’s sight, not to perpetuate a hierarchy of snobs.
1. Training in what to sing, how to worship
a. Learn God’s forms by singing Psalms and other songs recorded in Scripture. Not because nothing else is acceptable, but so that we can learn what delights God, and look for other things that have the same life, and even make them ourselves.
b. Study worship as a congregation, especially concentrating on the forms God established and embellished through history, including the glimpse of heavenly worship in Revelation.
2. Training in music itself.
a. Congregations need an accomplished, trained leader. (I Chron 15,16) Note the Davidic requirements for musicians serving the Lord.
1. Musicians were Levites (15: 16-24), i.e. paid members of the priestly tribe. In Nehemiah’s day, not paying the Temple musicians was a serious enough offense that the administrator who withheld their pay was deposed and publicly humiliated (Neh 13:4-13).
2. Chenaniah, the leader was skilled enough to be a teacher (15: 22).
3. They were full-time. (16:6, 37)
4. They were mature adults (I Chron, 23:3), numbered for service assignments from age 30.
5. They were purified and set apart for their work as any other Levite. (Num 8:5-14) And so must any of us purify our hearts if we expect to offer acceptable praise to the Lord.
c. Leader should be able to train others and to screen worship music. Apparently, even David submitted his poetry to the appointed Levite in charge of music before it was used in worship (see Ps headings).

I look forward to the day when Christians will join together gladly in glorious worship that is both pleasing to God and nourishing to men.


Mark Kodak said...

Leading music is an aspect of the New Covenant priestly office, but there is more to worship than music.

I am not accusing you of this, but "worship" has become a modern synonym for merely the musical aspect of our service on Sunday. The hebrew and greek words denote a kissing of the face, or prostrating oneself in profound awe and humility. Could the lack of our reverence, virtuosity, and acumen in modern church music be really symptomatic of a deeper issue ? That we have forsaken the fear of the LORD, and the posture of entering a royal house where even the seraphs cover their eyes, hands, and feet.

Isaiah 6:4-5 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

Dave Taylor said...

I thought the illustration from handling money was an apt one for describing the real meaning of experience. And "let people practice lots of . . . worship" under those who have wrestled with the issues--what a neglected concept! I agree completely.

As for the comment by Mark K., it's funny that you should cite a text that presented just the problem you allude to in a church we once attended. We were singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" one Sunday morning, and I sensed the Lord's presence there in our midst, but the whole atmosphere was marred by scattered clapping and whistles (i.e., as you might find in a rock concert, and characteristic of this church's laid-back style). It was completely inappropriate, and a sign that many were not (as you say) conscious of being in the Lord's presence at all, but just going with the flow' of an adopted worship style as reflexively and inflexibly as the kind of 'dead' styles they had left behind.

One more thing, Kim. Can we expect any more series like this? Anyone can see you put some work into this. I'd rather read one post like this each day than bunches with a fraction of the content.

Kim Anderson said...

Gentlemen, I really appreciate the depth of your comments. They have added greatly to value of this series.

Mark, you really hit the nail on the head with your word study on "worship". We have lost that sense of awe as we have courted the merely cozy(?).

Yes, Dave, I hope to do more of this. But probably sporadically, as I have a graduating senior this spring, and heavy administrative duties in our regional and local home school support systems.


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