Sun and moon,
and all of you bright stars,
come and offer praise.
and the water
above the highest heavens,
come and offer praise.
In Psalm 148 Creation explodes with praise for God. In v13 we’re told, “The glory of God is greater than heaven and earth.” Creation cannot contain the praise due God and the psalmist calls upon the angelic hosts and the highest of heavens to join in the chorus of praise.
Yet it’s possible that you might be worshiping God too much.
(While I’ve previously written about expanding worship beyond the Sunday morning worship service, in this context I’m focusing upon the church’s corporate worship.)
Over the years I have noticed that so much time has been spent discussing the spaces between the words that we’ve forgotten what the words actually say!
Examine this phrase from Colossians 3:16, “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit“.
Here are some questions I wish we’d spend more time discussing about this verse,
- “But I thought our worship was always directed to God?”
- “How is singing teaching?”
- “How is singing admonishing?”
- “How can we make our singing more instructional?”
- “What does it mean to have wisdom as we sing?”
- “Can hymns not written by apostles be ‘from the Spirit’?” “Does this mean they’re inspired like the rest of the Bible?”
In my experience, churches have focused so much on singing toward God that we overlook the way the words and music impact the emotions and faith of those hearing the singing. (Although, even as I write this I can think of many worship leaders who carefully consider how particular songs, lyrically and musically, fit specific places within the worship service.)
How can we better consider one another while singing?
When we direct our entire focus toward God during congregational worship, we fail to allow the songs to challenge the status quo in our lives. I believe this is one of the strong arguments supporting the inclusion of solos or other “performances” into our worship. Often people are quick to dismiss these as entertainment rather than worship, but I believe this step overlooks the need for us to listen, not only during prayer and preaching, but also to our singing.
The instruction to “speak to one another in song” requires that we also “listen to one another’s songs”. Sometimes this listening requires us to stop singing, to focus on the words and experience the music.
When we listen to our songs they often challenge the way we relate to those around us. A regular favorite at my church is the song “Love One Another”. Yet I wonder if singing that songs prompts us to look around the room and consider who needs to know they’re loved today. We sing songs of throwing out lifelines, but do we then make a point of talking to guests?
When we sing, “Bless the Lord O my soul… For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.” and we know the man in front of us lost he wife last month and is struggling to think of one reason to keep on singing. Do we put a hand on his shoulder? Do we let him know afterwards that we know it must be tough for him to sit through that song?
What if we set a goal every Sunday of having each song prompt us to think of a specific person? Would our worship experience be different? Would the worship experience of others be different, richer?
I wonder if we don’t too often picture a profound experience of worship as eyes closed, hands raised, just me and God, feeling his love. No doubt there’s a place for that. But just as worship must encompass more than Sunday, Sunday worship must encompass more than “me and God”.