Hi, all! It’s good to be back from vacations and Youth Gatherings and such. I’m busy catching up with approximately 1.6 bazillion emails and other tasks that have fallen by the wayside in my absence, but wanted to share something with you.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about worship music lately. It’s no mystery to most of you, I guess, that – while my musical tastes outside of church are rather eclectic (and very little of it would probably do for worship music … with the posible exception of Tom Waits … well, I digress), my preference is for the time-honored music. I’m no fan of Marty Haugen (except his Holden Evening Prayer) or David Haas. But give me an Isaac Watts or even a John or Charles Wesley hymn, and I’m a happy guy.
While we were at the Youth Gathering, we heard a LOT of more contemporary stuff from Agape to Rachel Kurtz to Lost & Found (though I’d probably not call that contemporary any more), and honestly, it was good. Really good. I’ll always prefer my hymns, but there’s room for LOTS of kinds of music.
Anyway, with this on my mind, as I was doing my devotional today, here’s what I ran across:
“Offering a Sacrifice of Praise
There is an old saying many Christians use: ‘Offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise,’ referring to Hebrews 13:15. In many cirlces this notion of a ‘sacrifice of praise’ almost becomes cleche. (Perhaps because worship does not often come at much cost, especially compared with the sacrifices of saints who’ve gone before us.) But when we worship with folks of various traditions, there are tiems when we may hea a prayer that uses language we might not naturally use or sing a song that isn’t really our style. That is part of what it means to be a member of a community as diverse as the church is. And perhaps that also helps shed some light on why it might require some sacrifice for us to give up ourselves.
“When a song isn’t working for you, consider praising God, because that probably means it is working for someone else who is very different from you. Offer your worship as a sacrifice rather than requiring others to sacrifiece for your pleasure or contentment. There is something to the notion of becoming one as God is one; doesn’t mean that we are the same; it just means that we are united by one Spirit. After all, we can become one only if there are many of us to begin with.
“Liturgy puts a brake on narcissism. Certainly, there is something beautiful about contemporary worship, where we can take old things and add a little spice to them, like singing hymns to rock tunes or cecciting creeds as spoken word rhymes. But liturgy protects us from simply making worship into a self-pleasing act. So, if a song or prayer doesn’t quite work for you, be thankful that it is probably really resonating with someone who is different from you, and offer a sacrifice of praise.”
[If you’d like to follow along with the daily devotionals, go to commonprayer.net for the daily lectionary.