Worship: Music and the ArtsWorship describes those times we gather deliberately seeking to encounter God in Christ. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. The word passionate expresses an intense desire, an ardent spirit, strong feelings, and the sense of heightened importance. Congregations who practice Passionate Worship offer their utmost and highest; they expect worship to be the most important hour of the week. – Robert Schnase
One of the often-overlooked features of worship is that it is a group activity. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Though I’m sure there are multiple levels of meaning here, it’s interesting to note the implied energy and spirit connected with worshipful gatherings.
What is this implied energy and spirit to a community of faith gathered in worship? Try this experiment as often as you can. Take an opportunity each day to spend ten minutes in silent meditation alone. Then, come to a Taizé Service and experience The Great Silence. The Great Silence is about 10 minutes of personal reflection / prayer / or meditation. Notice how these experiences differ. Both are of great spiritual value, but they are different in many ways. The simultaneous meditation with others brings a different energy to the meditation process.
Worship within the community of faith has a different energy. Everything seems more inviting and inspiring. There is significantly more energy when we sing together, or listen, or pray, or enjoy fellowship with other sojourners. Engaging worship lends itself to feeding the hunger of the soul. Worship connects us with the abundance of God’s grace and goodness that is reflected in the gathered community.
The word Liturgy is often defined as “the work of the people.” Indeed, it requires all of us to support each other in this work. This shared work is at the heart of passionate worship. As Pastor Bob emphasizes, worship is not about style.
We need to get beyond “style” discussions and those no-win arguments of contemporary versus traditional. I believe that all worship is contemporary. How can it be otherwise? We are human beings who are alive now, seeking to worship God in spirit and truth. God is relevant to us. Faith is our response to God. Worship is our contemporary expression of gratitude to God who was, and is, and is to come.
And let all God’s people say…”Amen.”
Eric Strand Director of Music and the Arts