IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 4, Number 9, March 4 to March 10, 2002

Music Matters
Show 18

by Robert Barnes

Good day, this is Music Matters and I'm Robert Barnes. Christians need to learn a little patience when it comes to developing Biblical worship.

One professor of mine at Reformed Theological Seminary said (and still does say), "If you try to say everything anytime you say anything then you end up saying nothing at all."

In popular Christian music, it seems as if many songs try to tell the whole story of redemption. In sermons, the preacher often starts in the garden and isn't happy unless he ends up in Revelation 22. In hymns, every one usually starts out with a topic, and ends up with you dying and going to heaven and being with Jesus.

Most more conservative worship services try to fit a prelude, a reading of the Law and the Gospel, sacraments of baptism or Lord's Supper or both, preaching, special music, 10-30 minutes of congregational music, a responsive reading, and offering, the hated 3 announcements that are already in the bulletin, including an announcement to read your bulletin, a passing of the peace or, in the "shake another hand next to ya" song, a moment for missions, and then a postlude, all between 11 and 12 on Sunday morning.

We can't do everything at once, but we would be wrong to think that we are not obligated to do most things often. In my mind, it is a mistake to think about the structure of public worship by looking at a single worship service. The question ought not to be, "What should a weekly worship service look like?" Rather, the question should be, "What should the worship life of the people of God look like?" One weekly worship service is insufficient to do everything that the worship life of the community of God's people ought to be doing. I think we need to think in terms of broader time frames, deciding what to emphasize by looking at what the current, legitimate, biblical needs are, and in part by looking at what we haven't emphasized in a while.

Can you say everything to your spouse you need to say at the breakfast table? Can you train your children to submit to you with one stern lecture? Worship, like all forms of communication, is a process.

Brothers and sisters, what is your worship life like? Are you getting too much of one thing, not enough of another? Is the last time your congregation had a time of quiet contemplation when Aunt Margie fell off her organ bench? And didn't get back up?

Let's be patient with one another in worship, and see how a slower pace may enable us to better worship God. He's not in a hurry.

I'm Robert Barnes, and this has been Music Matters.