It is obvious from the Bible that God is a God of song. God loves music, and the heavens resound with it. He puts a song in the hearts of his people. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, there is singing. Moses leads the people of Israel in song after passing through the Red Sea. His sister Miriam joins and, with a great timbral chorus, dances before the Lord and sings the song of victory: "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously."
We used to hear about "music wars" in the church. But have you noticed the shift? Today we hear more about "worship wars" and "culture wars." As distasteful as the war imagery is, I take some comfort (as a musician) in finally seeing the discussions about music placed in the larger worship and cultural arenas—even though musical issues are still very close to the front lines.
I read, quite sympathetically, your editorial in Reformed Worship 34 (December, 1994) this week—sympathetically because I know the heart that created it longs to be gracious and inclusive, not to hurt. There is nothing unrighteous about such goals.
I'm writing these thoughts at the end of August, after visiting and preaching in a number of different churches. Although these congregations were theologically rather uniform, their worship idioms differed greatly—ranging from stately Canterbury to enthusiastic Nashville. And some of the congregations showed cracks and crevices in their koinonia, because of differences in their worship preferences. All of which made me take stock again of my stance on various worship issues.
Here's my worship credo of ten years ago:
I don't know who first "discovered" Kierkegaard's contribution to the nature of worship, but a lot of people have been referring to it. Here's how it goes: Imagine a worship service as a drama. Who is the audience? Who are the actors? At first glance, most would say that the congregation is the audience, and the minister is the actor. But no—Kierkegaard supposedly claims that God is the audience, the worshipers are the actors, and the minister is the prompter.