Saturday, September 27, 2008
I hesitate to write today- as God has laid out a topic I don't want to tackle... but this is not about me or my comfort level. It is all about Him- as all true worship is. So here we go. I feel led to write today about a historical debate that has been waged since the Old Testament- known today as "worship wars" or conflicting styles of worship music. This is the only day I will write on this subject (hopefully God won't want me to belabor this point, as it is quite small in the grand scheme of who He is). Please bear with me, and hear me out. I will not take sides- nor attack anyone or any style. This is about worship- which is all about God. Period.
Today's readings: 1 John 5, Ezra 3-4, Psalm 92
"And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: 'For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.' Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off." -Ezra 3:11-13
The background of this passage is that God's people had been living in captivity for 70 years, and finally were able to return to their city and rebuild it and rebuild the temple. As they began to restore the temple a worship service broke out and everyone began to sing. But some people didn't join in with joy- because they didn't think they should be rebuilding the temple- they had fond memories of the old temple, they liked how the old temple had looked... you know how it goes. It was the side of tradition. But the side of relevance and contemporary was trying to build God a new temple to honor Him as they knew how, a way that was comfortable for them, that would fit with the new culture around them.
Each side of the battle wanted to honor God the best way they knew how. Each side wanted to be comfortable. Each side had their preference and opinion. But let me say, Church, worship is not about us!!!!! It is not about hymns or praise choruses- organs or guitars. It is not about standing up or sitting down. About clapping or dancing or shouting. It is not about slides or hymnals, about you or about me. It is about GOD.
Worship is about our response to who God is. There are as many different responses as there are people on earth; no two people will respond to God in exactly the same way. But we worship corporately- so we must find a way to worship God together. When you are alone, spending time worshiping God privately, you can worship him however you like. You could sing hymns to Him, you could dance for Him, you could listen to a praise CD while you take your morning walk- you could paint for Him or write a poem for Him- the list is endless. But when we worship together, our pastor and worship leaders spend time crafting a service that will help us all worship the same God together. You may or may not like all of the aspects of the service- but that just doesn't matter. Worship is a choice- just like sometimes love is a choice. When you are married sometimes you feeling loving toward your spouse and other times you don't. But no matter what you choose to love them- regardless of your emotions. That is what we are called to do in corporate worship.
Tomorrow as we worship together, I extend a challenge to each of us: choose to worship God in every prayer, every Scripture reading, every hymn, and every song. Allow God to reveal Himself to you- and then use the songs and hymns and prayers and even the tithes and offerings to be your response to who He is. If you don't know the tune of the song- read the words to Him as a prayer.
Let us practice worshiping with this Psalm. Read it to God as your prayer today. Think on all that God has done for you this week. Think about your favorite aspect of who He is. Allow this to be your response to who He is.
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute and on the harp, with harmonious sound. For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands." -Psalm 92:1-4
Praying that our worship would bring Him joy,