Lewis on the Spiritual Value of Music

This summer, the WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK will be taken from the many and varied writings of C. S. Lewis, 1898-1963. This is the year we celebrate the centenary of his birth. Today's Worship Quote by C.S. Lewis is another on issues of style as they relate to the music used in worship.

Christian Reflections
By C. S. Lewis

SPIRITUAL VALUE OF MUSIC
The first and most solid conclusion which (for me) emerges is that both musical parties, the High Brows and the Low, assume far too easily the spiritual value of the music they want. Neither the greatest excellence of a trained performance from the choir, nor the heartiest and most enthusiastic bellowing from the pews, must be taken to signify that any specifically religious activity is going on. It may be so, or it may not.

- C. S. Lewis, "On Church Music," in Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967).


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Lewis, a non-singer, is obviously pushing the point that true worship is from the heart. See the first chapter of Isaiah to see what God thinks of religious observance without appropriate heart attitude.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Buechner on Prayer

Today's Worship Quote comes from Frederick Buechner and deals with an aspect of prayer that is sometimes difficult to understand - for me, at least.

ON PRAYER
According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about praying is to keep at it. The images he uses to explain this are all rather comic, as though he thought it was rather comic to have to explain it at all. He says God is like a friend you go to borrow bread from at midnight. The friend tells you in effect to drop dead, but you go on knocking anyway until finally he gives you what you want so he can go back to bed again (Luke 11:5-8). Or God is like a crooked judge who refuses to hear the case of a certain poor widow, presumably because he knows there's nothing much in it or him. But she keeps on hounding him until finally he hears her case just to get her out of his hair (Luke 18:1-8). Even a stinker, Jesus says, won't give his own child a black eye when he asks for peanut butter and jelly, so how all the more will God when HIS children... (Matthew 7:9-11).

Be importunate, Jesus says-not, one assumes, because you have to beat a path to God's door before he'll open it, but because until you beat the path maybe there'll be no way of getting to YOUR door. 'Ravish my heart,' John Donne wrote. But God will not usually ravish. He will only court.

-Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, ed. George Connor (New York City: Harper Collins, 1992).


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

I had to look up "importunate." The Random House Dictionary had some help for me. "adj.  1. urgent or persistent in solicitation.  2. pertinacious, as solicitations or demands.  3. troublesome, annoying." It sounds a bit like nagging, doesn't it? Keep praying!

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Stott on Spiritual Worship

What do you think of when someone is referred to as an "idolater"? Today's Worship Quote is from Christian Basics by John Stott.

SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
Instead of worshiping God "in spirit" (recognizing that he is spirit himself and asks for spiritual worship), idolaters become preoccupied with external, visible and tangible objects.  Even the worship of the people of Israel had a constant tendency to degenerate into formalism and even blatant hypocrisy. The seventh and eighth century prophets were scathing in their denunciation of Israel's empty religion, and Jesus applied their criticism to the Pharisees of his own day: "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their  hearts are far from me'" (Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:6). So whatever outward forms we may use in Christian worship (liturgies, processions, drama, ritual, kneeling or raising our arms), we need to ensure that they escape the charge of idolatry by passing the double test of being "in spirit and in truth."

- John Stott, Christian Basics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 94-95.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Note that Isaiah, Jesus, and John Stott are not condemning all outward forms of worship; rather they are warning Israel, the Pharisees, and us that without hearts for God, our worship is empty, and definitely not "in spirit." See also Isaiah 1:10-20.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Furr and Price on Music in Worship

Today's Worship Quote is another from The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response. The authors develop the metaphor of "dialogue" as they explore the dynamics of biblical worship in the Christian church. This week, a note about the contribution music makes (or doesn't make) to the dialogue of worship.

MUSIC IN WORSHIP
"The primary functions of music in worship are to facilitate the dialogue and to contribute to that dialogue. Though aesthetic delight, personal enjoyment, and opportunity for a performer to share a talent may be by-products of the use of music in worship, none of these should be a primary purpose.  Unless music can make a meaningful contribution to the dialogue of worship, it should be omitted.  It would be better for music to be absent than for it to be an interruption or distraction."

- Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1998).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

I highly recommend this book to pastors, church musicians and anyone who plans, leads, or participates in worship in a local church.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Furr and Price on the Dialogue of Worship

Today's Worship Quote is from a book by Gary Furr and Milburn Price. The authors, a pastor and a minister of music in a local church, present the metaphor of "dialogue" to describe the multifaceted nature of Christian worship.

THE DIALOGUE OF WORSHIP
The tapestry of worship is formed by the various threads of conversation that occur in interweaving fashion: God's Word being communicated to the gathered community (both individually and corporately), worshipers responding to God under the prompting of God's Spirit, and those same worshipers sharing with each other their understandings of their faith commitments and of the ways in which God is at work in their lives."

- Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1998).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

This is a delightful and insightful ninety-page book about the theology and practice of Christian worship. I recommend it highly.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Hustad on Response to the Self-Revelation of God

Today's Worship Quote of the Week is another that pictures worship as the full-life response to God. The author, Don Hustad, extends on the words of Jesus, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30).

RESPONSE TO THE SELF-REVELATION OF GOD
Christian worship is our affirmative, transforming response to the self-revelation of God ... We are not seeking to find or to know an obscure, frightening being who needs to be placated. God makes and continues to make the first move, showing himself in power and in love, inviting our response. In fact, worship is any and every affirmative response to God. There is no point to a question raised by some, whether it is more important to "express adoration to God" or to witness and to minister in our church life. One act gives corporate voice to our inner commitment; the other is our outward expression of worship in obedience to Christ's second great commandment, " ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).

To worship is to think about God and to converse with him. To worship is to preach God's good news and to minister to a hungry, hurting world in the name of Christ. To worship is to serve God as a banker, a farmer or an engineer and also as a church deacon or elder, a Sunday school teacher, or a member of the choir. To worship is to love God more than anything or anyone else in the world. To worship is to enjoy and use and preserve God's world—including all good art, beneficent science, and healthy entertainment. For the Christian, every act of life should be one of worship, with love that responds to God's love.

- Don Hustad, Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal (Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 1993).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Heart, soul, mind and strength. That's pretty much everything.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Schaffer's "Only You"

Today's Worship Quote of the Week is another prayer/poem by Ulrich Schaffer. Perhaps we could call this a modern-day psalm. Have you written a psalm lately?

ONLY YOU
My wish is
to come only to You,
to put aside and reject everything else
to stand before You
and to wait.

Not to waste my time anymore
with words and actions
that don't count before You
and make me dishonest.

To order my life in a new way,
to consider what forms me,
and how others are formed through me
and then to reject or emphasize more.

Let it become visible in my life
that you are the pearl
for which I will give up everything.

That in You is my treasure
And my heart.

- Ulrich Schaffer, Greater Than Our Hearts: Prayers and Reflections (New York City: Harper and Row, 1981).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Do you hear the words of the scriptures in this poem? Of course, the "pearl" and the "treasure" come from Matthew 13:45-46 and Matthew 6:21, but which lines are echoes of these other passages: Psalm 25:5, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 100:3, Matthew 5:16, Luke 14:26, John 12:25, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and Philippians 3:7-8? The list could go on and on.

Far too often, for me, Jesus is only one of my treasures. He's a pearl of great price among many other wonderful possessions that compete for my attention, affection and worship. This poem/prayer/psalm gives me a bold challenge to "reject or emphasize more."

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Chambers on Worship and Intercession

Today's Worship Quote of the Week is another from Oswald Chambers' devotional classic, My Utmost for His Highest.

WORSHIP AND INTERCESSION
Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. Too often instead of worshiping God, we construct statements as to how prayer works. Are we worshiping or are we in dispute with God- 'I don't see how You are going to do it.' This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God we become hard and dogmatic. We hurl our own petitions at God's throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do. We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ. If we are hard towards God, we will become hard towards other people.

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Barbour & Company (http://www.barbourbooks.com). Selected mostly from talks given during the years 1911-1915, these devotionals were first published in 1935 by Dodd, Mead & Co., renewed in 1963 by Oswald Chambers Publication Association, Ltd.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Lord, give us the mind of Christ as we pray for each other. May our intercessions be supported by a proper attitude of worship.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Best on Passion for God

Today's Worship Quote is another from Harold Best's book Music Through the Eyes of Faith.

PASSION FOR GOD
Being moved by music is secondary to worshiping God. The Spirit is always to be free to direct our worship, whether the music moves us or not. It is only when being moved by music is coupled to a preceding passion for God that we are truly moved. Behind all of this is the Lord's continuous invitation to come and to continue worship. God wills that all of us worship him. Behind all of these secondary movings - music, art, drama, dance, architecture, atmosphere, and environment - is the primary mover, whose most quiet call and gentlest reminder speak louder than our most elaborate art pieces.

- Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1993), 152.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

There it is again-worship as a response to the love and work of the "primary mover." Note that the author is not speaking against emotion in music; nor is he speaking despairingly against the use of the various fine arts in the worship life of the church. He is merely warning us not to confuse an emotional response to art with a passion for God.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

White on a Definition of Corporate Worship

Today's Worship Quote is another definition of corporate worship, this time by the contemporary Methodist theologian James F. White. Here he stresses the human purpose in worship:

DEFINITION OF CORPORATE WORSHIP
Called from the world, we come together, deliberately seeking to approach reality at its deepest level by encountering God in and through Jesus Christ and by responding to this awareness.

- James F. White, Introduction to Christian Worship, (Abingdon Press, 1980), as quoted in Don Hustad's Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, (Hope, 1993).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Reality at its deepest level! Responding to an awareness of God! How can we so often take worship so lightly?

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.