Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Cultural Impact of Worship

So, this was serendipitous.

The day after the election I was tidying up a stack of papers – a random collection of things I’d kept over the years to use for choir devotions, my old music ministry newsletter, zingers, or whatever. (I had commandeered a binder in a recent emergency, and there was this stack o’stuff on my office floor :~)

Sorting through this material was a walk through my first few years as Music Pastor at College Church in Wheaton. And here was something that my colleague, Dave Helm, had passed on to me. It is from the November 1997 Tabletalk, by Douglas Wilson: “The Cultural Impact of Worship.” There is a lot of incendiary material in the article . . . it is, after all, by Douglas Wilson! But this is the part that Dave had highlighted and brought to my attention:

Christians do not know how to lift a glass of beer to the glory of God for the simple reason that they do not know how to sing the Gloria Patri. We do not know how to compose concertos that honor God because if the sermon goes longer than fifteen minutes we get a case of the creeping fantods. We do not know what a statesman is because we do not know what a call to worship is. (p. 59)

Interesting that this quotation would leap out at me the day after this particular national election. Could the election of Donald Trump as President be a natural consequence of evangelicals’ “willing adoption of a breezy formality in worship that has led to a host of problems outside the church”? (p. 58)

Well, it’s one way to account for why many who call themselves evangelicals voted for a person so antithetical to what evangelicalism supposedly stands for. I continue to believe that how we worship makes a difference in the world. And it might not be the difference we think it is or wish it to be.