Sunday, September 1, 2013

Heart of Worship

This morning for worship, we did something a bit different. Instead of putting a great deal of emphasis on music, we chose instead to focus on silence, rest, and stillness. The service was inspired by the summer of favorite hymns, and by one of our favorite "Hymn Stories," the story behind Matt Redman's "Heart of Worship." Here is the Hymn story as I read it this morning in service. 

People come to church for a lot of different reasons.

Some come to be seen, they believe it is good for their reputation.

Some come because that is what their family has always done, it is routine.

Some come because they want to feel superior to someone else, they may think, "So-and-so really needs to hear that sermon," but never apply the messages to themselves.

Some come to socialize. Singles may even come to find a "Good Christian spouse."

Some come expecting worship to make them feel good, a "God-fix" to get through the week.

Some come to be entertained.

There may be many other reasons people come. Not all of them are bad, but many still miss the point. They show apathy toward worship, and little regard for the object of our worship. 

Such was the case in our hymn story this morning. Unlike many of the other stories we have heard this summer as we looked at our favorite hymns, this last story is a contemporary one. It takes place in England in the early 1990s in a large, contemporary church. The church was going well from the outside. The numbers were up. The praise band was amazing. But the pastor began to slowly realize something wasn't right. The congregation had become apathetic toward God. They were there, much like Grandpa Walton on one of my favorite TV shows, "For the singing." 

So, this pastor along with his staff, did something radical. They took away the band and the music. At first the void was filled with silence. Now, Mother Theresa was once quoted as saying, "God's first language is silence..." And I love that quote. Silence is often where we can meet God. It is where He speaks in the still small voice. It is where our faith is challenged, and where we find ourselves in awe of His creation and provision. However, in our Western, Evangelical church tradition silence is often awkward and uncomfortable, especially when we are gathered for worship. And so it was for this church, at first. 

Then God began to move. He began to open people up to new and creative ways to fill the silence. The congregation began to offer up new prayers, new forms of art and poetry, dramatic readings, and eventually even accapella hymns as genuine offerings to God. It was a moving and growing time for the entire congregation, including the worship leaders. At the end of the experiment, one of the leaders, Matt Redman, penned the words to the song "Heart of Worship," which we will sing later in the service. The song says this:

When the music fades, and all is stripped away, and I simply come
Longing just to bring, something that's of worth, 
That will bless your heart
I'll bring you more than a song,
For a song in itself is not what you have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
Your looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about you, it's all about you Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about you, it's all about you Jesus

What have you brought to Jesus today? What do you need to let go of to focus on Him? How can moments of silence bring you back to the voice of God?