Warning this post is full of rabbit trails, general hilarity from corny musicians and a few serious thoughts on worship. When I originally wrote if for Middle Places, I had apparently not learned how to pick one thought and follow it through. It would seem I still have issues with that. So enter at your own risk.
RT#1 (because we all know a rabbit trail is totally a great way to start a post, right?):
Can I confess something to you? Apparently I like confessions as many of my blogs seem to start with those six words.
As I was passing out a new song to our church orchestra on a Wednesday night some time back, the voices in my head were talking pretty loudly. Normally they are rather judgmental or condemning, but that’s a post for another day. This particular day they were quite hysterical. Sometimes I crack myself up!
The song I was passing out was simply titled “God.” I had written the order of music for the rehearsal on the white board and had a thought flit through my head that it was a rather pretentious title for a song. Then someone asked me if I forgot to finish writing the title. It would not be unheard of in the World of Maria, as I tend to be somewhat scatterbrained and easily sidetracked. That just opened up a whole can of silly worms in my brain.
For just a minute I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into the mind of this musician, well, actually several musicians because as soon as I let one slip, everyone else in the room joined in.
You can’t keep “God” in a box. (The copies are kept in a box)
There are many parts of “God.” (It’s written for a full orchestra.)
Have you heard “God” yet?
“God” is never ending. (The song is six and half minutes long. Most songs stay under the four and half minute mark, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing.)
I love “God!”
I’d like to share “God” with you.
“God” is for us.
“God” is all you need.
I found “God!”
Did you put “God” away?
Go with “God.”
We were truly waxing eloquent…or something like that, anyway.
- Before I go on, I want to take a minute here to note that God, indeed, must have a sense of humor since He created the human mind to be able to generate and hold so many wild, meandering thoughts. We truly do have some interesting conversations during orchestra rehearsal that are evidence to that fact.
- I also want to note that I say all of this not to be sacrilegious, but merely to point out that as Christians our minds have been filled with many sayings that we, within the church, understand and say with all sincerity and pureness of heart. However, I recognize they may fall into the category of “Christianese.”
I have another confession. Do you think you can handle it?
I listen to praise and worship music just a little bit and that is mostly only to prepare for orchestra rehearsals. I respect the people who write it and know they have a calling to what they do. I even follow some of them on Twitter. But it is not my favorite. I love music with a story. Give me Sara Groves or JJ Heller or Andrew Peterson any day.
Over time I have come to love some praise and worship music, but much of it causes me to have to really prepare and adjust my heart to a place of worship, because it does not naturally elicit that response from me.
To be able to utter the words in those songs from a place of true commitment often scares me to no end. “Jesus, lead me where my trust is without borders” is not an easy thing to tell God. Neither is “Take my life and let it be…”
Here’s the real point of the whole blog post, but I’m wordy and 200 words is just never enough:
I remember in my college days hearing more than once “Music is not neutral!” It was preached as a dire warning right before we left the tightly controlled environment of our Christian college to head out into the real world. The pastor was trying to keep us from listening to “evil” music. He meant well.
I think that statement is just as true of praise and worship music, not the evil part. Music is not neutral. Often the instrumental music alone causes an emotional pull, and we sing big, bold statements of faith without even giving the words a second thought.
I’m not here to define what is “evil.” To me, it is a matter of personal preference. I am here to say that I agree whole-heartedly with the statement that music is not neutral. You need only turn on a song with a little beat and put a one year old child in the room. Their chubby little diapered bottom is bound to start shaking back and forth or bouncing up and down.
See? Music is not neutral. It elicits a response from the smallest child all the way up oldest toe-tapping adult. Numerous studies have been conducted to show how music affects and alters moods and even the growing conditions of plants. If you take a minute to peruse your iTunes playlist you would could probably find that your choices in music would differ based upon your mood or what you are doing.
So be careful little ears what you hear.
Return to RT#1:
Now…let’s get back to “God.” Seriously, I crack myself up…but I digress.
This song, “God,” by Eddie James may be one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. While the arrangement is not my favorite because I’m really just not a big fan of the whole rap genre, when I focus on the words, I am in awe.
In the seven plus minutes of this song, I think Eddie James has managed to sum up God quite nicely, or at least what we are told of God in the Bible. He is the beginning and end. He is above all, in all and through all. Jehovah. Jeshua. I AM. Elohim. Kadesh. The Rock. The Lion. The Lamb. Holy. Worthy. Glorious in holiness. Fearful in praises. God. He cannot be contained…not even in the most “beautiful mind” or in any box.
One last RT:
Here’s one last confession. In my hustle and bustle on Sunday mornings I often arrive at church all flustered and stressed because my mind is filled with all of the little details that need to be taken care of before the rest of the orchestra shows up. I also have my anti-morning girl in tow and that is always an iffy thing in and of itself. If I’m not careful, by the time I slide into my seat before the service begins, I may have forgotten the real reason I show up with my horn each week in the first place…to worship God.
While observing Sabbath is an old testament ritual that is not a natural part of my life, I love the concept of it. At the end of the week God had commanded a day of rest and spiritual preparation for the Israelites. I like to prepare for Sundays on Saturday night-to plan out my clothes and the girl’s clothes, to print out my order of service and look over the music one last time, asking God to use it to change me and to minister to others through it.
On Sundays on the way to church I listen to my playlist for that morning’s songs and concentrate on the words one last time. Then, when I arrive at church on Sunday, I can remember that the songs that work their way from the paper to my eyes through my brain to my lips and fingers and out the bell of my horn have nothing to do my talents or skills and everything to do with God. He alone is worthy of my praise!
This post originally ran on Middle Places, but I pulled it out, identified the rabbit trails, and brought it out to play again.