Sunday, April 12, 2009

Worship's Inclusiveness (6)

One special moment surprised me during the Halifax Keswick Convention. One night's session was planned for young people - who were very evident! Responding to the loud rocky music, (with very thoughtful lyrics I must say), they jumped up and down and clapping vigorously at the front of the auditorium. It was high decibel active praise.

Later, when I began speaking, I mentioned how my wife had suggested that I get up and join them. Laughter greeted the suggestion and I explained how, anyway, I needed all my breath to preach.

When I finished, the musicians came up and began to play for the concluding part of worship. As the young people rose to take their place along the front again, one young man rushed across and pulled me up out of my seat. Very self-consciously I joined in at the end of the line. I feebly identifed with limited body action (!) as I found myself surrounded by real enthusiasts. Two girls came up alongside. One said: "You're doing well!" and then she added poignantly: "We are so glad you joined us."

Music can be a great divider and so easily break people into groups. And yet, it can also be a bridge between generations. Sure, it wasn't my first choice of music (nor my second!) but this worship enabled these young people to express their love for the Lord, and they wanted to include me. How much is it worth joining together across age boundaries and style preferences? Let's rephrase that question: How much is it worth to God who longs to create a new kind of worshiping community in Christ (Gal 3:28)?

So many questions arise?
Why do musical tastes clash so violently? (Thomas Troeger writes of "sonic cultures" - that we need to understand our own so that we can relate to others' too. Tension seems inevitable).
Did I please God by joining in the young people's loud praise music?
What were my motives? Was this a genuine way to show love and to strive for unity in the body of Christ?
Would they be as willing to join me in more reflective music? (I think some were there other sessions!)
Would it ever be possible (or desirable) to choose music in worship that would enable us to share in services together? How much would we have to suppress musical tastes? Is that a way of showing love to God and neighbor?
Should music have such a major role in setting worship parameters anyway? Isn't there so much more to gathered worship than music?

I believe that I glimpsed something afresh of the love that we need to show to one another if the unity of Christ's body is to be safeguarded. Is this easy when it comes to music? No. But some things are worth striving for. Working through implications of this experience needs so more thought, but I am so glad I went through it.


Anonymous said...

Our music tastes sometimes clash violently because music is the communication of the soul. When a musical tone is sounded that does not ressonate with our souls, we may sense that we have been robbed of the opportunity to fully express ourselves, whether the purpose be worship or otherwise. Therefore, we do not feel "heard". We feel shut down, isolated and tuned out. It's not simply a matter of taste, but an issue that when we are subjected to forms, styles and tones that are inconsistent with our own, we feel that we have lost a prime vehicle for expression (and in this case, praise). Thus, it's not a case of one person necessarily "liking" another person's style, but rather the person whose style is not being reflected feels unheard.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the last comment. It seems to focus totally on self rather than on God. What does He want rather than what do I want? He wants a community of believers and although each of us have desires and likes that diverge, we need to come together for Him. That does not mean that all churches will be the same or even that each week's services within our local body will be the same week in, week out or hour by hour. What it should mean is that we seek the good together in the Lord and choose to have our hearts resonate with his desires rather than our own desires. We are here to worship him in all we do and it is a choice. It's a choice to love his people and one of the ways we can do that is to be inclusive without stepping out of his bounds, to draw others into our body of Christ. That is what he told us to do by saying go and make disciples. I think the Lord is still teaching me through new believers as well. We each have our own part to play and should use our talents and if yours is to play classical, ethnic or rock music, play. I'll be happy to worship the Lord in his variety and his splendor in any number of places, times and ways with all his children.

Anonymous said...

The initial comment is not intended to suggest that it is legitimate to focus on "self"; it only seeks to answer Dr. Quicke's question about why musical tastes clash so violently. While the writer of the recent post shares some insightful words regarding appropriate worship and its expression, it does not respond to the question relating the reason behind the "violent clash." I simply contend that when one feels that their soul is not being heard, violence will follow. It may be a tragedy or even poor theology, but none the less, it answers the question of "why"?

Anonymous said...

Gathered worship could also include congregational prayer but frequently congregational prayer is so "directed" as to dampen the Spirit moving.