Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sing a joyful song!

When given a choice between leading worship or preaching a sermon, my inclination is to lead worship. Please don't get the wrong impression if I say that leading worship is easier. I spend time with God and listen to what he is saying and try to pick out songs that reflect that. I wouldn't class myself as a singer. I sing, but I am not trained in anyway and over the years I have been told that I have improved!

Preaching stretches me far more than leading worship. At the end of the day there are no song words or music to hide behind and everybody is listening and taking notes! I probably work harder to bring a word than I do to lead worship.

Given that - if I had a choice this week of what I would prefer - I would opt for preaching! In a small church we have a select number of musicians and next Sunday, all but the drummer are away for one reason or another. That kind of makes things quite challenging! Even with a keyboard player I don't always hit the right notes! Quite how things will go without one I really don't know!

Some twenty or so years ago I used to attend a Plymouth Brethren Church. The evening service included the use of a piano, but the morning meetings were music absent. There was a selection of a dozen or so tunes and each of the hymns in the book could be sung to at least one of them. There were moments when we sounded nice. I think there are also moments when the angels just joined in! There were other times when it was dire. Whoever started would begin at a nice cracking pace and then things would begin to slow down.

I googled "worship without music" just to see if anyone could give me any hints about how to handle Sunday. The first up was an article "Ten Ways to Worship Without Music - Building worship into your daily life." We all know, but tend to forget, that worship as in singing and music is just one facet of worship. To quote the article "Worship is the process of surrendering your entire life into God's hands. Everything you do can—and should—be an act of worship." Prayer is an act of worship, as is obedience to his word. Sharing your faith and serving others are also demonstrations of worship. This is nothing that I don't know already - doing it is another matter!

Another quote that is worth repeating - "Fellowship without the spirit of worship is just "hanging out." Discipleship without worship is nothing but a fruitless mental exercise. Ministry without worship is called "spinning your wheels." Evangelism without worship is a misplaced sales pitch. Worship isn't simply one area of your life; it is your life."

Excellent stuff, but not what I was looking for. What I was looking for was "How to lead worship when all the musicians, bar the drummer, are away!"

Another article focussed on the whole idea of having musical instruments in church as being unscriptural - sounds like my Plymouth Brethren Sunday mornings. Musical instruments may feature in the Old Testament but, according to this article, "Christ never authorised mechanical instruments of music in the New Testament to be used in worship of the church," and "It is a historical fact according to early church history, no mechanical instruments of music were ever used in church worship until about the year 670 A.D."

Spurgeon once said "Sing unto him. This is the sweetest and best music. No instrument like the human voice." Wesley's words on the matter - 'I have no objection to instruments of music in our worship, provided they are neither seen nor heard."

We do rely so very much on the music to set the mood and draw us into the presence of God. The times when we have deliberately set aside the instruments have been awkward and uncomfortable. When I think about the times at home when I break into song - and I often do - I don't pick up a musical instrument before I do so - I just sing. If I can do it at home on a Monday or a Wednesday, I should be able to do it at church on a Sunday! Right?

Maybe we will be joined by a few angels - keeping the time and the key for us!


Bonnie Calhoun said...

I pray that the Lord will lead you! I don't know what kind of music you play in your church, but we use contemporary worship music. Maybe you could pick an accompaniment or two to play the music for you to sing. We favor Hillsongs alot at our church. I don't know if they're big where you are. I'll pray1

M. C. Pearson said...

Matt Redman wrote this song when he decided to stop instrumental music for a month or so in his church. It is awesome!
You can find the words and music here-- http://www.mixed-up.com/lyrics/worship/?show=heart-of-worship

Heart of Worship

by Matt Redman

When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the things I've made it
When it's all about You
All about You, Jesus

King of endless worth, no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor, all I have is Yours
Every single breath