Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Hungry Worshipper

Deb over at On the Vine has been doing some interesting work on worship. She writes of her longing for an intensity and nourishment in worship that has been largely lost in our day. I can certainly sympathize!

Evangelical Christianity's current passion for meeting unbelievers where they are and serving their needs has some disturbing repercussions for worship. Believers like me (and Deb) feel starved even after a full Sunday of worship. So, where to turn when men fail you? I'm looking in the Scripture for guidance, and invite you to come along.

Some Thoughts on Music in Worship

I. Why do we sing in worship? What is accomplished?
A. Why do we sing?
1. Short answer: Because it is commanded. (Ps 33:1-4, 47:1-7, 81:1-4, 100) If we believe that first & foremost we must honor God in our worship, and not merely please ourselves, then His commands regarding worship must come first in our consideration. Before what it does for us, before understanding how it fits in…. It would be enough for us that He commands singing, but it is not an unreasonable requirement.
2. Why is it commanded?
a. Worship is to be a time when God’s people gather before His Throne to remember, to celebrate and to renew His covenant with them. It is a formal occasion for us as a body to joyfully say ‘Amen’ to His gifts and to rededicate ourselves to His service. It is the primary time when we come together as a family and He comes to us as King. It is not an ordinary event. (Yes, we ought to have more intimate times with God as our Father, but those ought to be daily. Every king’s son must sometime come before his father’s throne and treat him as a king as well as a father. Sunday morning worship is that time for us.) Therefore, it is appropriate that we should use extraordinary means of communicating our response to God. We should not only SAY, ‘How nice!’ We should SING, ‘Alleluia!’
b. Notice in the Ps we just saw, the commands to sing praise are connected either to the fact that singing is the response appropriate to God’s people because of who we are (Ps 33:1 “praise is comely for the upright”..), or it is appropriate because of who God is (Ps 47:1,2 “For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.”), or yet again, it is appropriate because of what He has done (Ps 47 continues with His ruling all the earth.. Ps 100 He is our creator, our shepherd. Ps 34 David calls, “O magnify the Lord with me, & let us exalt his name together,” and rehearses how God delivered him from his enemies..)

B. What is accomplished?
1. We please God by offering praise & honor in the way that He commanded.
2. We engage with God and His gifts to us as participants in His command performance, rather than as spectators at an entertainment event in our honor (congregational singing).
3. We engage our whole selves in response to God’s person & works – body, mind, emotion, spirit.
4. We engage as a body rather than as individuals, i.e. we respond to God’s covenant as a covenant body. It unites us in praise. (congregational singing)
5. We are assisted to lift fallen, resisting hearts to the task of worship (‘special’ music).
6. We are given God’s word on the tips of our tongues, assuming we sing Scripture and right doctrine. Music is a memory aid.
7. We are trained in courtesy and beauty, not only to give honor to God, but also to give honor outside worship to whom honor is due.
8. We are given a glimpse of the glory of the King and His Kingdom. This strengthens us to go out into the everyday world and do the works of our Father.

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