I came across this article on a new blog that I’m reading regularly. I read it and IMMEDIATELY decided to post it for your consideration. I probably would have written it a bit differently…adding in some issues regarding historical liturgy and some other realities like the sacrament. But Rex’s point is well taken…we have been reductionistic in our ideas of worship in the church of today. Every where that I go I hear the same words as someone picks up a guitar or stands behind a keyboard, "stand with me and let’s worship"…as if worship ONLY happens with song. Don’t take me wrong, I’m a musician and if I had ONE WAY to worship, I would do it in song…but that’s not the only way that worship occurs. For some that I know, singing is the last manner that draws them close to God (of course, I’ve heard them sing…but that’s another story :0)). Seriously, these thoughts are good…meditate on them, won’t you?
Ten Worship Mistakes #5 – Mistake # 5 – BIG WORSHIP and little worship
Posted on rexmiller.net
Worship is God’s vehicle to transport our hearts to Him AND a means to recognize God as sovereign, holy, omnipotent, merciful…
We try – and I mean try – to align our thoughts, emotions, attitudes and everything within us to see God more clearly and love Him more dearly (borrowed lyrics).
Worship is like walking through a narrow place with effort on one side and grace on the other while looking for a passage that opens into God’s presence.
This describes the journey to BIG WORSHIP.
That journey has many expressions; meditation, contemplation, prayer, giving, serving, communion, dance, chant, etc.
Music can be a vital element to worship – its not BIG WORSHIP. When music becomes our dominant reference point for worship – we journey through little worship.
The business world discovered that worship music sells. The business effect has provided a potent tool for spreading worship but at the same time shortened our reach for BIG WORSHIP.
The business effect has focused on little worship and elevated it into a genre with celebrities, contracts, concerts and merchandise with its own subculture. Musicians who sing worship lyrics and worshippers who sing are both called artists – so the lines blur. Still withing this world of big business you can still find many worshippers, and professionals, who have overcome the traps of commerce protecting their hearts, gifts and musical offerings.
I think we are all challenged to move beyond little worship and gain a better foothold into BIG WORSHIP.
History can shed light into the nature of BIG WORSHIP by exploring how the earlier church approached it.
Here is a neat bit of history. Did you know that monks designed the music scale common in Western culture (diatonic or 8 note scale)? The monks saw geometric symmetry built into God’s universe and translated that symmetry into the music of chant.
If you have listened to chant you may have had a similar reaction as mine. Nice, soothing – but after a while it all begins to sound the same. Then I did a little homework and what I found out changed my paradigm for worship.
Chant was far more than a simple melody and mystical words. Chant was actually a cosmic tuning fork – aligning ones total being to the harmonies of heaven. Let me give you an example. You are probably familiar with the grade school song:
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do
You may not know there is a hidden significance the ancients designed into these simple words. That significance holds a secret to BIG WORSHIP.
If you hum those notes you’ll discover something intriguing. Each note resonates in a different part of the body. Try it and you’ll feel it. Chant was a complex algorithm with words and notes purposely placed to bring body, soul and spirit into the presence of God. Incredible!
The BIG WORSHIP idea is understanding worship as a holistic encounter – a cosmic tuning fork.
It is hard to describe and put chant in its proper context. Today it simply sounds like background music. It is beyond the comprehension of a modern mind. The unified world view of our ancestors gave birth to these kinds of integrated mysteries. They saw music, not as a style-driven medium, but as a way to tune in to the harmony of God’s creation.
How can we think outside of our music box when we think of worship? What metaphors or analogies might help us capture what the ancients saw in their cosmic tuning fork?
What would, could worship look like – to reclaim that sense, understanding, appreciation that there is a whole lot more to worship than we typically touch from week to week. How intriguing to consider and exciting to pursue?