When I was lately at Pepperdine University, I had the blessing to hear Frederica Mathewes-Green. She is an Orthodox writer and speaker who is humble and kind, a refreshing voice in this world of chaos. For fear of misquoting, she said something similar to the following with regards to singing:
When we sing, we are given again the Breath of Life from the mouth of God, and we receive Him into all of us, and at the same time are given the opportunity to return that Life to Him in a way more harmonious and beautiful, taking an active part in the harmony of the Trinity.
Enough said. I have thought of it every time I’ve sung since then.
Why is the dark so frightening? Why is the first thing I do in my house flipping a switch and creating light? I know how to walk through the living room, down the hall, into my bedroom without going through all the trouble of turning on lights at every step. And, when the light goes on in my head everything is safe again, but in reality, nothing has changed. Why is this and is it the same in the spiritual sense? The Light scatters the darkness creating safety and comfort, no more bumping into walls and looking like a crazed person with arms fully extended in front of you – your eyes are opened to behold things invisible and unseen. Riddle me this.
I was recently at a conference about a cappella music. Most of the people there were from Orthodox traditions, Church of Christ, or people just interested in the music. There was also a panel of speakers who were from various non-traditional Churches who were presenting on Church music with/without instruments and what kind of music should be played in church today, etc…. One was from a more “emergent” Church who had some good words about bad hymns and good hymns, and how we should only be teaching our children the latter kind. But he was very non-denominational praise-band worshippy. Another speaker had a nifty PowerPoint program on “Convergence Worship”. He had more degrees for his age than any ought to have, and the corporate nature in which he dealt with the topic at hand was slightly unnerving to my more traditional veins.
I must be growing – I didn’t get angry and I was slightly amused.
One picture kept coming to my mind: With all the discussions about how we should worship and what music should be played and who are we targeting and are we being culturally relevant, I just kept asking myself how many times we must reinvent the wheel rather than getting on a cart that already has wheels and sorting things out from there. That’s not the picture though, that was a rather long rabbit-trail. The various evenagelical movements today continue to put up pre-fab buildings on a parking lot (valet parking sometimes included) when right next-door is a cathedral that is founded in the Garden of Eden. We aren’t supposed to be culturally relevant in our worship – WE’RE SUPPOSED TO WORSHIP THE ETERNAL AND EVERLASTING GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. Like Adam. Moses. David. The Apostles. And all the faithful departed this life in a faith sturdy enough to hand down to their great-great-grandchildren. I want to go to Church to worship God in His Cathedral, and I want to better it for generationsI will never meet.
I pray that I will have the strength to build just one brick of that cathedral that spans all time until Christ’s completion rather than be concerned with the pre-fab, quick-fix nature of my culture.