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Worship Wonderings

In last week's sermon I  talked about the value and enrichment that comes from embracing rather than judging different worship styles.  Each of us with our temperaments and backgrounds will understand some worship styles while scratching our heads about why people do things in other styles whether that is pentecostal, charismatic, traditional, contemplative, or  liturgical in a more formal way.  I thought I would  write this post and give a couple of examples and then encourage you to post your questions or comments  and I will respond to your responses to the best of my ability.

For example:
Why do some churches read  some psalms, and passages from the old testament, new testament letters and a gospel each week?

The lectionary (schedule of bible readings) has been developed and it performs a number of functions.  It exposes people to parts of the bible they don't normally read (hint - have a go at reading the bits of your bible where the edges of the pages aren't worn or slightly dirty).  Secondly the readings for a particular day often follow through a theme through the  scriptures.   Thirdly by taking samples from various parts of the bible it helps remind us of the overall sweep of scripture from Creation, through Crisis, Covenant, Christ and New Creation.

In more contemporary or charistmatic forms of worship why do they repeat songs  several times, why do they so often refer to I and me, and why are they always doing new songs?

Well each of these features are not new and while overemphasis makes worship unbalanced they have an important part to play.  Consider:

  • How many times do the words "I" and "me" appear in the psalms: 798 and 669 respectively.  Worship is personal!
  • Psalms and other places involve repetition - in Psalm 136 every second line is "His love endures for ever", and in the visions of worship in Revelation they are constantly reflecting on the holiness of God.  Careful repetition emphasizes, intensifies, and establishes.  Another example is Jesus repeated questions to Peter - do you love me? - in John 21
  • Worship should be fresh:  4 times in the psalms there is the command to sing a new song; new songs are referred to twice in the book of revelation;  God is doing new things; and humans are inherently creative since we are created in God's image.
I look forward to your comments and questions.  Please post them by clicking on the comment link below.

David Wanstall, 14/02/2008