Not long ago I found myself on a Sunday morning visiting a church where some friends of mine are the pastors—Jim and Steve the lead pastors, and Mark in charge of music (their names have been changed here). The worship was wonderful – strong preaching wedded to both missional and sacramental sensibilities. The people were friendly, the music eclectic and excellent, the Spirit alive in the sanctuary. Yet there were a few moments where I cringed when we sang songs with sexist language in them.
Learning What Tenderness and Hope in Response to Jesus Feels Like
One the most tender moments in the entire Bible is Simeon's joy at the presentation of Jesus (Luke 2:29-32). His serene and hopeful song is a model response to the revelation of the Lord:
Ah, the old Trojan horse. You think you’re welcoming something innocent and wonderful into your life, and it turns out to be evil and destructive. People talk about worship songs that way. I’m a part of several online forums, and this conversation always comes up. It goes something like this:
Should we, with all the other churches, incorporate [X] song from [Y] church, if [Y] church’s pastor preaches heresy?
Paul Ryan’s article “Addressing Sexuality in Worship” (RW 85, Sept. 2007) challenges worship leaders to honestly name the sexual struggles all Christians have in the midst of a sex-saturated culture. In this article Robert Bayley continues that call to speak openly and honestly about those struggles and even to sing of them. He has written two hymn texts to help us do that. —JB