Much joy rang out in Whoville recently when churches were able to open their doors again for services in sanctuaries. Music rang out again. Hallelujah! Like many churches, prior to the pandemic, mine had adapted a two-pronged approach to style of worship—contemporary and traditional—to accommodate the different tastes of our congregation. Strong feelings abounded on this topic, particularly when it came to the music, and much discussion occurred before the two very different services were developed. Returning to church with the limitations necessary to ensure the safety of church members has revealed this unflattering truth: some of us (me) are still making it all about the music when we all know full well it’s not about us. It’s about Him.
In order to have time to properly clean the sanctuary between services, the task force in charge of reopening the building (the church was never closed), opted to have two “blended” services instead of one traditional and two contemporary. This means both services incorporate contemporary and traditional style elements. The faith band leads worship at both services, but traditional hymns are sung as well as contemporary music.
Because of my compromised immune system, I’m still participating in worship through the on-line streaming service. I’m shamed to admit I grumbled more than once when the service began with two old hymns I didn’t know and couldn’t sing. I was too teary-eyed over not being in the sanctuary with my sisters and brothers in Christ to appreciate the beauty of these hymns. I wiped my tears and blew my nose and tried to take my mind off the ache in my heart by looking through the on-line bulletin to see what song would be played at the end of the service. Good. At least I recognized it.
I thought it was just me, being me. I’m a Methodist, born and raised. I’ve sang plenty of the old hymns. I just enjoy faith music more. That’s what’s important, right? Go ahead, shake your head. I deserve an eye-roll. Then I talked to another member of the church later in the week. Without divulging too much of what was a personal conversation, I can say this member felt excluded by a service too contemporary and too loud. The gist of the conversation was that older folks were getting the short end of the stick in this blended version of worship.
Is it human nature to be so self-important we can’t see how we’ve made worship all about us?
Lord, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.
It can’t be a coincidence that our worship team chose to lead us in an old faith song recently that speaks to this sinful approach to worship. It’s called “The Heart of Worship.” The writer is apologizing to God for making worship about himself. A song is not what He requires. It’s all about God. Here’s the link to a song that speaks to this issue. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ29ueTkSWM. (If an ad pops up first, please delete it. I haven’t found a way to keep this from happening on YouTube. I apologize in advance.)
Maybe worship style hasn’t been a challenge for others. Maybe I’m only hoping I’m not the only one who’s been remiss in my approach to worship during the pandemic. If that’s the case, Amen! Otherwise, I hope this song will help us think about what we’re doing so we can straighten up and fly right. I’m looking forward to Sunday service and raising my voice to a faithful, righteous, gracious, merciful God. He knows what I need and gives it to me whether I like it or not. He forgives me even when I don’t deserve it.
How are you dealing with the pandemic’s effect on your worship services? Any tips are appreciated. Leave your comments below!