Saturday, February 20, 2010

Worship?

For those of you who are not Christians, you may want to come back on Monday.  I really don't mind if you read this post, but you might not grasp the significance.  I have been troubled for some years about what passes for worship in my denomination.  It really doesn't matter which one it is as they all are subject to the same social pressures.  I know some churches have a suitable worship service, but I have noticed a trend toward pleasing the public at the expense of experiencing worship.  Loss of the beautiful poetry of hymnity in favor of the endless repetition of some modern chorus is robbing us of some beautiful statements on scripture.  I wrote this poem  years ago to express my angst with the modernization of the service at the expense of real ministry.


            Worship?

I arrive each Sunday morning
With some anticipation
That perhaps I’ll find it again.

Worship.

I feel no comfort, only anxiety.
Has it left me, or have I left it?
Am I on the wrong page?
The buzz of people talking in the sanctuary
before the service.
Politics, health, sports, gossip;
It creates quite a din.
No time for quiet reflection,
thoughts of God,
relief from the every day.
The hustle to be on time.
Announcements with prayers in them.
Prayers with announcements in them.
Racks with unused hymnals,
silent reminders of the inspired poetic
utterances of Saints of old.
Sometimes we sing one or two
rarely stopping for a breath between them
so that we can chant some overused chorus
several times while craning our necks
to see the words displayed high above
on a drop down screen.
No music to follow.  Just some bouncy tune
that we should know because we
hear it so often.
It makes me want to bunny hop down the aisle.
I squirm and hope that the song service ends soon.

Worship.

Over amped, theatrical wailing with words lost in its
thunder.
This followed by clapping.
And we’ve just begun.
Let us all join in our denominational mandate
to try and find a sermon in whatever ten
verses might be next in line
as we pedantically march through
whatever book happens to come next.
That is if we, by some miracle, happen to
finish the last one.
Let’s not fall prey to the topical sermon
to uplift and inspire.
Whatever comes next is whatever comes next
regardless of content.
If it happens to be a little short on depth,
just use amplified sermonology;
The holy art of cramming a five minute sermon
Into thirty.
“And the young lawyer asked, questioned, inquired, formed an interrogative sentence, etc.”
Who is my neighbor?
Who is my neighbor?
Who is my neighbor?
Who is my neighbor?”
Worship.
I don’t get it anymore.
But, we must move on to the reading of the announcements
printed in the bulletin.
Duck hunting instructions, flower arranging, and golf tournament.

Worship?

Dennis Price

16 comments:

  1. Oh dear Pappy,

    You posted on a topic that totally wipes me out to even consider it.
    You covered it so well. The distracting technology, the programs, the "Christian" (can you say Satanic Rock?) music that passes for worship.

    God is Holy. Have we forgotten that?

    My husband and I have been criticized by two of our own children for standing firm in our beliefs. One blog particularly has beaten me to death with her dark satanic poetry lies.

    I am signing in under anominous, but I know you can find me in your tracker.

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  2. Thankfully we have a true traditional service and even though we're a relatively small church, both contemporary and traditional services seem to work. Our music director will sometimes tell the stories behind the timeless hymns and also sing ones I haven't heard in years.

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  3. Balance in all things...

    I may just have to have the pastor read this one. We do have to remember, I know you're going to hate this, that we are getting older and the church is evolving and thus it has ever been. As long as our North Star remains Christ and Him crucified, we'll find our way.

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  4. Vee. Believe me. I have heard all the generational arguments from America to China. When I was in Church we sang hymns from King David's time to the present. We had pablum hymns of social engineering even back then that were written in our own era. We didn't sing them much, but on special occasions, brave song directors might try one on for size. We also had numerous choruses which were sung on Sunday night, in Sunday School, or at youth events. However, if the church had the resources, we had robed choirs, organ and piano music and a congregational hymn service in preparation for the message. I remember banners in some churches saying, "if you must speak, speak to God." There was a reverence and awe created by the conduct of the entire service. Now we must be entertained. We feel compelled to make church music sound like the raucous din we hear in night clubs and rock concerts. If there is no difference, why not just go to the bar? I learned to read music in church, and I could sing parts by looking at the notes in the hymnal. Most song services today are abysmal substitutes for the melodic harmonies and beautiful poetry of the past. I am of the opinion we err in not continuing our musical education in our churches. My daughters are grown now, but they prefer the "Classic" services to the "Contemporary".

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  5. Pappy, How timely (God is always right on time) to find this post this morning...another Sunday morning that my husband has gone to church and I sit here alone...by my choice. It is just that my church services have left me empty for so many weeks now. I too miss the "meat" of church services...the old hymns...the "repent" messages... I don't believe it is ALL supposed to be about "feel good religion". I see where Vee is coming from, but I am just not sure...God isn't our "buddy", is He? Our loving, heavenly Father, yes, but one we are still to revere. I don't know...I am just really confused about denominations right now. I thought the non-denominational one was what I sought. And it was, for a while. But now, I hunger again...

    Wanted to share this post that I read just prior to yours. God IS speaking to me today, even if I am not in church. I need to find my way back to worship, however...

    http://watchman48.blogspot.com/2010/02/its-all-good.html

    Thanks, Pappy! God bless and have a GREAT week.

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  6. You already know what I think I'm sure-but well said!

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  7. It is better known as Apostasy.

    http://www.abibleconcordance.com/41G-0600.htm#g0646

    It is the same thread that runs through the bible over and over again from Exodus to Revelation, people still want their golden calves. They still want to bend God's word to their will, rather than bending their will to God's word.

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  8. Sure was a good topic for comment. Glad you all dropped by. Pappy

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  9. One last try for balance... ;>
    As you know, many of those old hymns of the church (I love them myself) were taken from the bar songs of the day. I hope that you find just the right balance for you. For me, it would be some of each. Sue asks if God is our "buddy." I don't think so, but He's the best friend we'll ever have and He very much wants us to be bold enough to march right up to Him and sit upon His lap and call Him "Papa." This I firmly believe. It's all about relationship. Spare me from whispering churches.

    Thanks for a topic that provided much food for thought and sparked a lot of conversation.

    (It's okay not to post this.)

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  10. Vee,
    Challenging comments are always welcome. I always publish those who differ in opinion as long as they present their case as you have done. Pappy

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  11. So many of us have trouble finding the church that helps us to worship God in the way that suits us best. So many times we take the Word of God and twist it to fit our lives instead of rearranging our lives to fit the Word of God. Many people have fallen so in love with the ways of "the world", they tend to forget that these ways are not the way of God. At one church I have attended they have what they call a "progressive" service and they also have the service for those of us that are "traditional". The older I get, the more faults I find with myself; hence I become less inclined to criticize the ways of others. I used to be offended when young folks wore bluejeans and thong sandals to church; now I'm just glad they are in church and not in some crack house, or working for the "Freedom From Religion" groups. I just have to trust that each person has to find his own path to God as I have had to find mine.
    Pappy, you write a wonderful blog. Some of it I agree with, some of it I don't. But, I read it almost everyday. Thank you for taking a stand.

    Sharon

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  12. Thanks Sharon,
    I have been many things in my years on this old ball, and I have made adjustments through the years to accommodate a number of changing paradigms. I have learned one thing about changing to accommodate, and that is changing behavior almost always moves downward unless there is an expectation attached to move it upwards. People just naturally move toward a lower standard. I have become less inclined to go along to get along as I get older. I believe we should set high expectations in government, education, human behavior, and in worship. If the things of God become like the things of the world, what motivation is there to strive for something better? I believe God set the standards and His expectations are very high. Although I don't dare speak for Him or proclaim any special knowledge in that area, I do notice a thread of truth throughout the scripture that leads me to believe He expects the best. With His help, I believe we can move upward toward that standard. However, if we continually lower the standard, I think most are more than ready take the slide with little resistance. I was taught the reason for showing up at the Church dressed in your best clothing was to honor God. In some country churches this was your "Sunday go to meetin' overalls". I believe there is an acceptable standard for all demographics. It has to do with presenting God with your best. I am a jaded former lawman, and I blush at some of the outfits worn by some in our assembly. I use the clothing example because it is probably the easiest to explain. It also applies to the quality of the message, song service, giving, participation, and fellowship. I believe God deserves better than whatever happens to be lying on the floor next to your bed when you get up on Sunday morning. Pappy

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  13. «Louis» is with you on this, Pappy!
    In too many churches, entertainment or feel-good social engineering or what «Louis» calls The Litany of the Lunatic Left" has replaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In how many churches these days do we really hear Christ crucified, Christ resurrected?

    We don't hear that balance of Law and Gospel preached. We are afraid to mention SIN because we might offend someone. We water our liturgies down and re-write them to be "gender neutral".

    We have today what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "Cheap Grace". Everyone should read Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship", his exposition of The Sermon on the Mount, as effective an argument as «Louis» has ever read for the true cost of God's abundant, but never cheap, grace.

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  14. One more thought on Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship". As «Louis» wrote in his previous comment, this book is Bonhoeffer's exposition of The Sermon on the Mount.

    By the time the reader finishes this book, he or she will be absolutely convinced of how completely dependent we are on God and His abundant grace - and how utterly impossible it is for us to "earn" this grace on our own.

    For those who might not be familiar with Bonhoeffer, he was a WWII-era Lutheran pastor in Germany. When Hitler outlawed the seminaries, Bonhoeffer founded an underground seminary.

    When the Gestapo closed the underground seminary, Bonhoeffer increased his outspoken opposition to Hitler and the Nazis. He was imprisoned in 1943.

    Despite being imprisoned, he managed to participate in the planning of the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler.

    He was hanged on 9 April 1945 at the Flossenbr├╝ck Concentration Camp on the direct orders of Himmler.

    Bonhoeffer wrote "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

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  15. Hubby and I had a hard time finding the right church just because of the pablum most churches call "worship" too. We enjoy the traditional hymns, not this new garbage that passes as music. We also enjoy (short) sermons that involve taking the Scripture and discussing what it means. Our pastor practiced all these things but regrettably is very ill now. I miss that. Anyway, maybe it's time for y'all to look for another congregation OR start your own. Worshiping God doesn't require a special building ... but you know that. Good luck! :)

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