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31 October 2007

Do We Just Want an Acceptable Level of Entertainment?

As Christmas draws closer and our choir prepares for it by learning specific arrangements of some traditional Christmas songs, I've thought about how music affects our states of mind.

I really dislike most new Christmas music -- songs written withhin the past 20-30 years (with the exception of the "Elf" instrumental theme song). These songs don't speak of Christmas to me. I don't just "not really like them," but I usually can't stand them!

God created an amazing thing when He created man. All of our senses work together with our minds to create "experiences," for lack of a better word. The smells of Christmas, the words of Luke 2, the colored lights that some people leave on their houses for far, far too long, and the music of the Christmas season all work together to almost create that elusive feeling that we had when we were children. The one that most of us wish desperately that we could recapture.

The music we use in our worship services acts on our beings in a similar way. We all have comfort zones where music is concerned, and we'll find that music either enables us to, or distracts us from, focusing on God.

The unique thing about worship, though, is that it involves an act of our will just as much as it involves our emotional state.

In a given service (at our church fellowship, let's say), we may be in that "place" where we're truly able to pour out our heart to God in what we're singing, and then all of a sudden the guitar solo comes in. "Guitar solo?! But worship isn't supposed to be entertaining!" For some of us, defense mechanisms will immediately spring into action, developing into an unbreachable wall, effectively preventing us from any further worship as we repeatedly remind ourselves that "this isn't a rock concert."

This is where we put our mind to work and it becomes an act of our will to worship. Not an act of will to worship in spite of something we may see as a distraction, but an act of our will to remember and accept and truly take to heart that in the Psalms, David encourages us to praise the Lord with stringed instruments. When we praise, David said that we're to do so on loud-sounding cymbals. Loud ones! We're to shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!

Knowing that they didn't have electronic amplification in those days, it's highly doubtful that David wanted us to split one another's eardrums, but I should note that a drum set is one of the few instruments that is often not amplified in a church setting.

The next time you think that the music is too loud, I encourage you (hey, I think this an appropriate place to say that I "admonish you"), rather than repeatedly telling yourself how loud it all is, or that the guitar is too "twangy," to jump right in with it and add the noise of your praise.

When you feel that the music should be scaled back because you think it's entertainment rather than worship, think about a couple of things: 1) the people on stage are, most likely, absolutely not performing for your entertainment, but are pouring their unique skills -- the talents that God saw fit to give them and allow them to develop -- into worship, even entertainment, for an audience of One, and 2) it may very well be that you simply prefer that the music conforms to your level of acceptable entertainment.

No one but God can know for certain about the first, so it's imperative not to make even the smallest assumption. No one but you and God can know about the second.


Leroy said...

If it's too loud, it's Ken's fault. If it's not loud enough, it's Mark's fault. If it's just right, it's my fault. Ha, ha, ha!

I know from experience that a lot of our worship ideals, along with pretty much everything else in our lives, was shaped and formed by those that raised us. God gave us gifts to use for HIS glory. Our approach to worship begins with the heart and a proper attitude.

ladybug said...

I honestly believe people who can play any instrument have been given a gift. Why would God give someone a gift if he didn't want them to use it. I think that an instrumental solo is a wonderful expression of praise for the gifts that have been given to the "performers" (for lack of a better word), and should be looked at as such.

If you are concentrating this much on weather it's right or wrong to have instrumental solo's in praise you are not truly focusing on your praise to God.

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