the baby and the bathwater


loss
September 8, 2007, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

loss: detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get; something that is lost; the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had; death, or the fact of being dead; failure to make good use of something.

I’m quite excited. Next Saturday, one of my songs is being used at an event in Kings College, Cambridge. A 100 strong choir, the organ, the great setting with it’s great acoustics. I would love to be able to go, but it looks like that won’t be possible, as I have a busy week, followed by a busy Sunday, and it looks like Saturday will be my only real family time. Now I’m not telling you about this to self promote myself (well, probably not), I’m telling you because I love to hear that sort of music, to that sort of standard, in that sort of setting. It’s potentially a beautiful sound that can capture our senses and set our hearts on God, and to hear one my songs being used in that way would be incredible.

Now I realise my confession that I like choir and organ music will probably destroy any sense of coolness or street credibility that I like to think I may have had. After all, I am a worship leader, and we’re not meant to like this sort of stuff.

But actually I think that beautiful music such as this has been a sad loss to the wider church. The organ as an instrument is awesome. The range of sounds and tones it can produce is incredible. It has great musical power than can reflect the majesty of God. It has exquisite delicacy that can reflect the gentleness of God. Just one person and one instrument can produce a range of sounds and melodies and harmonies that can gather the largest of congregations together for an encounter with God in song. And a choir seems to mirror and complement the sound of an organ so well.

It’s a loss to the church.

OK, so it still exists in some places and some contexts in the UK. But not a huge number, and certainly not in the depth or quality that used to serve the church in this country for so many years. And sadly, most contexts where it operates to a good standard tend to be civic, state events or cathedrals. [now just for clarification, I am commenting on my own country and context. i don’t know enough about other countries and other contexts to comment]

So why?

Why has something that used to serve the church so incredibly become something that is now viewed by so many people in the church primarily (though not exclusively) as an art form, and has become something that seems to more closely represent the death and the irrelevance of the church, rather than the life and the vitality of the church?

Well one possibility is that God just moved on, as he can do in his sovereignty, ensuring we listen to him and follow his voice. Just as in the desert times. And if that is the case, those of us who are set on his purposes, and seeking his kingdom would probably shrug our shoulders and say ‘that’s life’ and move on with it. Those of us who were organists (and I have been one!) would probably be content to learn the drums, or the guitar, or the pan pipes to help the church worship (ok so I lied about the pan-pipes).

Another possibility is that our culture changed around us, and so the style of music employed by the church with organ and choir became something that failed to capture the hearts of the masses. And so rather than lose touch with our culture, we needed to change our style of music in order to stay relevant. And again, we would probably be sad that the church has had to follow the culture, rather than shape the culture, but would not hang on to the old wineskins for the sake of the mission of the church.

But what if there was another reason.

What if it was our own fault?

What if we had made this music an idol? What if we had made it sacred. What if we had not been a good steward of it’s power. What if we had used it to serve our own purposes rather than serving the church. What if we had tried to steal some glory from the God who won’t share his glory out. What if we had started to do too many international choir tours that promoted ourselves above God. What if our own identities had become so wrapped up in it that we had lost the ability to hear the voice of god.

What if, because of our own stupidity, God just gently, silently, removed his hand of blessing from it?

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