Thursday, December 13, 2007

Worship Come to Its Senses: Part Four

"Sooner or later, all praise and thanksgiving, all that we preach, sing and pray must come to the court of truth." Saliers. Today we must ask ourselves, why do our services of worship not ring true to some people, even ones who regularly attend church. It would be easy for us to blow this off by saying something I have heard all too often, "we can't please everybody all the time." I think this is just a weak copout. We are commanded to "worship in spirit and in TRUTH." There are two kinds of truth in worship. Truth about God, and truth about ourselves. In the tradition I am a part of, we usually do really well on the first, and fall quite short on the latter.

"Christian liturgy" Saliers says, "is first and last praising, adoring, and thanking God in, with, and through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit." Sometimes however, we hide behind our praise and thanks rather than being radically honest to God with our lives. "Acknowledging God involves encountering the truth about the human story." This means that we must admit to our humanness in order to come before God truthfully in worship. This is vital for worship ministers and liturgists, "We come to the truth when [and only when] liturgy comes to its senses.

As in all of the Christian life, we must use Jesus as our model of truth telling. He spoke the truth boldly, but out of love, and sometimes showed his righteous anger. Dishonesty will distort our prayers and our praise. Jesus spoke to his Father in complete truth. When He was in the garden He told His Father, "let this cup pass from me." He was crying out to God out of truth saying, I don't want to do this! but if it is your will, then I will."

There are three practical ways we can come to truth in our worship services: lamentation, confession, and testimony.

There are very few occasions I ever remember lamentation in worship services, but I remember often feeling deep pain and sorrow, and us singing nothing but praise songs. Needless to say my heart was not in it. There are very few songs that express lament. One of the few I can think of is a newer one by Matt and Beth Redman, "Blessed Be Your Name." Saliers says, "our avoidance of lament has a strange result, it opens a great gulf between our liturgies and our lives." As I said before, this has been true so often with me.

Confession has also been mostly avoided in many traditions. Redemptive confession is not wallowing in guilt, moaning about how terrible you are. Confession can be extremely liberating when expressed by telling God and the Church what holds you bondage.

Testimony then, is when a person shares their story about the bondage that once held them captive but how they have received the Grace of God and how it set them free from the chains of sin and death.

"Unless we overcome our reluctance to share our faith experiences honestly in lament, confession, and testimony our Sunday gatherings will remain routine," and lack truth. "So we must be about stretching ourselves to bring the ancient and contemporary forms to life, and to bring all our life's experience to the God of truth." Then we will be able to worship God in both Truth.



Kellee said...

You write very well.