Rick and Monique

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recessed in Ritual

I understand differences in how people prepare for worship.  I find verbal and non-verbal cues to be important in many, if not most cases.  But views about worship settle into God as audience, and man as performer, giver or prompter (the term "prompter" should be given proper citation to my dad-in-law Joh who writes his own blog at http://joh-corrie.blogspot.com/).  I believe God is audience--but he's also in our midst, directing, proving, probing, teaching, prompting, revealing and so on.  I don't believe we can restrict God's roles to audience in worship, and I don't believe we can relegate, for instance, the Praise Team to a one dimensional prompting role.

And so, I'm wondering if Christians don't just misplace values on worship tasks?  Martin Luther King Jr. once said,  ‎"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."  I'd like to squish that quote smack in the middle of historically religious stigma.  Historical verbal or non-verbal cues regarding rightful value placements were how the church developed the hierarchal pedestal complex value toward pastors and priests who were often seen as more holy than anyone else.  And someone down the line decided that musicians who do extra work other than lead the congregational singing, should deem their solo work as "special music."  The greater church have become riddled with titles for tasks, and have become confused as to whether something is more or less special, a performance, a prompt or something else, and thus have become confused as to how to respond to it.  I've seen too many great musical or non-musical performers walk off stage met by legalistic silence-ridden congregants afraid of an unrighteous applause.  Furthermore, when the values are not adequately met in whatever scenario, the semantic worshipper blames their experience on someone else, and a blame-game ensues.

The quality of the sound, or music, or sermon should not shatter or shudder the joy of a group of people who can't wait to be together as children of God, knowing that God is with them.  Worship unbridled from mis-tokened titles frees audience response to song and sermon and resounds joyfully regardless, simply because God is.  In fact, in that environment, people are amazingly unshackled and allowed to burst into relational qualities previously unheard of, and that had previously felt uncomfortable.  For instance, a participant could then learn to enjoy the performer, performance, prompt, and the praise all from and by the same person.  Sometimes, when someone does a great job, they're afforded a bonus, or a promotion.  When a performer does a great job, they in kind, are afforded excellent applause, if not because they were great, but also then because they're God's.  And so applaud the performer and praise God.  Both are simultaneously good reasons to clap your hands.  A confident performer is upheld by the encouragement and appreciation just as many others are glad to be appreciated or responded to based on their own actions or generosity.

Worshipers shouldn't run willy-nilly into a worship experience.  Form and function matter.  That church leaders, workers and musicians are healthy and prepared for their task, absolutely; Most situations in or out of church are met by people whom expect good jobs out of each other.  Yet, I hope you'll flee from legalism, pietism and dogma recessed in rote ritual.

Engage in massive, infinite worship.  Sometimes we need to release our value placements from the experience.  Maybe God is our audience, but he's also the director and prompter I suppose one could say--he directs and also reminds us of our lines.  I do like that image (again see Joh Huizinga's blog).  Furthermore, a good director requires practice, and requires you to be ready to take joy in all things because He is, thereby freeing you to clap at a moments notice.

It's my view that when Christ said that if an action (feeding the hungry, dressing the naked) was done to the least of men, it is also done to Him (Matthew 25:40), his broader message was, "I love a cheerful giver, give to my glory, do not expect the seat of honor, allow it to be given to you and then enjoy it, and be generous to all men for my glory."  This means that by praising a someone for an excellent performance, by enjoying a sermon, by appreciating an intuitive point, and by thanking or rewarding someone for their excellent work, one also acts as a man or woman who's every intended regard is to the glory of God.

1 comment:

Joh said...

right on! God IS in our midst. Worship is due Him, and He blesses us in our responses. He inhabits the praise of our lips