Monday, April 30, 2007

Story...part 3

The thought that songs I've been singing for 30-something years have been less than adequate was disturbing at first. And I think maybe the problem was that I was thinking about it just like that, as an inadequacy. The more I've thought about it though, and meditated over your comments, the more I realize it's not about an inadequacy but about a choice.

I go to your comment first Steve. You asked, "how much can it really matter exactly what the three songs are about?" I think you answered your own question. God delights in the fellowship of his believers, and longs for their praises. So if we only get together and do that "in song" 1/540th of our week, shouldn't that time be spent talking straight to Him and not to each other? As individual beings, you're correct in saying we should be in Communion with God the whole week. But we get one chance out of 540 to raise our corporate voices with our brothers and sisters. I just think we can choose to on-purpose be directive in that approach.

Dave, great question about the fact that worship doesn't have to only be in song so why should teaching only be done by speaking. I hadn't thought of our songs being a teaching/passing of stories and history. While I agree that stories-by-song have historically been used for eons, in this instance I doubt too many people think that's what we're there for. Is our intent to share stories with other generations, or is our intent to worship our almighty Creator and Savior? If it's not the second and more the first, why do we call it Praise? This issue seems a little like splitting hairs and my point could be argued as semantics, so I'm not going to go any deeper into it. Thank you Dave for putting a different spin on it.

I attended the Gate yesterday where Kim was the worship leader. One of the songs we sang could be best described as an each-other song and not a to-Him song. The one line was "How great is our God, let us sing how great is our God." I found myself switching the words "is our" to "are you." Without even realizing it, I had switched the intent of the song from agreeing with other believers that we have a great God to telling God directly that He is a great God. I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal and say my worship was better or more real. But I made a choice to exalt Him on a direct level vs. an indirect, and I felt the presence of God in an intimate way. Did the others in attendance not feel His Presence; how arrogant would it be to say that? God speaks to us all differently and uses different ways to do it. All I can profess is that I will never sing that song the same again b/c I connected with God when I switched the focus. My question remains, if the same thing that happened to me yesterday happened to everyone when they switched direction, and we did that together, how awesome would our experience become?

It was awesome to worship and fellowship with you Ell, Kevin, Kimmy, Brad, and Lyndsay. I love being with friends, but there's something more to it when our purpose is meeting God.

Kim, that's the first time I've had the pleasure of hearing you sing and play. Nothing but praise! Thank you so much for the invite. I can promise you we'll be back. As for getting together, do you even drink coffee? Even though it's right in the middle, we could meet somewhere else than Starbucks if you want. Let me know!


Blogger kimw said...

Yes! I do drink coffee - every day :)
So, Starbuck's is fine. Where, exactly, is it in Columbiana? And, what time is good for you?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

It's actually in the Dutch Village Inn, in the lobby. If you park in the front and go in the front doors the coffee stand is on the left. I can be there any time after six.

Bring some ideas of what you want to grow, the size of area you have to work with, etc. I buy my seeds from an Organic company called Seeds of Change. I really respect their ethics and the ideals they have. I'll bring a catalog for you to take home, it's very detailed and informative. But if you don't care what seeds you get, or would rather buy plants from a greenhouse you can at least get an idea of what you can expect from each kind of plant group, etc.

I'm really looking forward to this.

1:24 PM  
Blogger kimw said...

How about 6:30? The area I have is about 8'x 5'. I know I want tomatoes, green beans, peppers (green and hot banana) and cucumbers. Other than that, if I have the room, I'm open to suggestions.

I'm also looking forward to it. I'll see you Wednesday.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

(Kim, Not sure if you'll read this before tonight...)6:30 is fine. We should make this meeting cool somehow.

(To be read in a fancy French accent) I'll be at the corner table in a jaunty cap, feather included, with a red rose. You bring a red rose and place it on the table so only the petals are touching. That is how I'll know it is you. Our future awaits...

Wait, I've met you before, and my wife may be with me. Never mind the Frenchy movie script. See ya at 6:30. :-)

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it's time i throw my opinion into this topic--expecially since you asked for it, Sam.

I think my answer has more to do with what I think the purpose is for congregational worship. I might be going out on a limb by saying this, but i think that most of us have an extremely selfish idea about what 'church' should be. A lot of us, myself included, have often used church gatherings as a once a week chance to meet with God, sing our praises to Him, get our warm fuzzy feelings, and then head out to Sunday dinner and the rest of our week. If that is our concept of what church should be, then yes--i think your observations about the direction of our songs is probably a valid one.

From my point of view however, i don't think church should be our once a week fuel stop. Rather, it should have more to do with building up and edifying other believers rather than being our chance to "meet with God." You mentioned Laura as an example--you said that if you want to give yourself to her you don't tell other people about her--you talk to her directly (sorry for the paraphrase). But what if church wasn't meant to be a time for communicating with God as much as it was to be a time for communicating with one another (personally, i feel there should be some sort of mix of the two, with less emphasis on ourselves and more emphasis on others)? There is more than one way to praise someone--we can praise them directly ("Sam, your blog is great, and always challenges me to think), or we can praise them behind their backs ("Hey Dave, have you been reading Sam's blog? I really appreciate the way Sam makes me think about things. You really need to head over there and read some of his posts.") Both of those examples are examples of praise. And they are both good and honorable things to say. However, simply telling you how awesome your blog is isn't going to get more people to read it. Praising your blog to them just might do so. I think we can look at our praise to God in the same way. We honor God both by praise Him directly, and by praising Him to other people--which can have the distinct effect of leading their attention to Him.

As Dave mentioned, songs have a great capacity to preach and teach, because they are easy to remember. What i would add to that thought is that we sing songs about God not only to teach others, but also to preach to ourselves. The gospel wasn't meant only for the lost--it is for all of us. We all need to hear the gospel on a daily basis. We need to preach it on a daily basis--both to the world and to ourselves. I love many of the old hymns for this reason--they are full of the gospel and when i sing them they preach to me. They remind me who i am and who God is.

I also really liked drifter's comment about Sunday morning worship being 1/500th of our week, and i think that's probably the heart of what i'm trying to say. 20 minutes on Sunday morning was never intended to be our weekly time alotment for worshipping God. Our worship and communion with God should happen on a daily basis. Sunday morning should be the time that helps our worship by strenghtening our resolve--which is what happens when we join with other believers. We realize that we are not in this alone and that our lives and our faith and our role in God's kingdom is more than just about 'us.'

I'm not trying to discount the fact that Sunday morning worship can be a wonderful time of connection with God--i'm only saying that it might be a good idea to rethink some of our preconceived notions about what corporate worship is, and what it should be.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thank you for your thoughts Rob. Well said.

I have to agree with you that too many people view church as their "once a week, get out of Hell free" card. And too many people don't see church as anything else but their own private pill to end all ails. While the corporate gathering can very well be a recharge, (and should be) we need to remember if we need if for that then everyone else there needs it too.

You have presented (and re-touched on a previous church topic) a church ideal that should be explored by every church out there today. Just for thoughts sake... If not all churches and people realize what you wrote about and make the necessary purpose/intention changes, shouldn't we pursue a more meaningful worship time when we get together? Or if we did that, would it become just one more crutch for people to "use" the church and not pursue God on a deeper personal level? Good stuff Rob.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i have to throw out my 'ideal church' ideal for the sake of conversing about reality, i guess i'd have to stand on the belief that different people worship in different ways--and so therefor you can't argue that songs directly to God are the only way for people to worship and connect with Him. Elizabeth and i came from extremely different church backgrounds, and it is really reflected in our styles of worship. She is completly comfortable in a hymn service, and finds the deepest connection with God as she's singing the beautiful imagry (either to God, or about God) that is found in many of the classic hymn. I, on the other hand, was raised in charasmatic churches and i apprecite the more direct approach--but i'm finding myself learning to worship in a broader sense than ever before. In the end, it all comes down to the heart attitudes of the people we are trying to lead. I've been in worship services where the music and songs were aweful, but there were certain people in the room who didn't care and continued to worship without regard for the music. On the other hand, i've been in extremely intimate and touching worship services where i was surprised to look over and see someone sitting in their pew with a frown on their face--obviously not worshsipping at all. If we, or the congregation don't prepare our hearts to worship before we ever walk through the doors of our church building, we're not going to be able to enter into true worship once we're inside-regardless of the songs or the quality of the music.

Good topic.

10:24 AM  

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