the baby and the bathwater

September 19, 2008, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There is a lovely elderly couple who I regularly bump into in my new-found second office, cafe nero. They are polite and dignified, well dressed and well spoken. The first time I spoke to them, she expressed her obvious pride in her husband, and his continued well being and perkiness, finishing with the phrase ‘you wouldn’t think he was 90 would you?’.

My first thought was ‘well actually yes I would’.

You see my own assessment of his ‘perkiness’ is slightly less positive than his wife, given that he looks like he could topple over every time he moves and that every lift of his coffee cup was accompanied with a worrying wobble and much huffing and puffing. In fact if I’m totally honest I am surprised, and slightly relieved, when he makes it through the next week.

However, there is something in me, when I chat with them, that wants to refer to them as ‘sir’ and ‘madam’. Which is strange really, because that feels very old-fashioned. But I somehow think this would please them, and show one of those good old values that in culture today is not really in abundance – respect.

As a worship leader of some years now, I have been through the times where the old has been steadily replaced by the new. In fact I have been around so long that even what was new is now old and there is a new even newer new.

If you see what I mean.

As we’ve gone through changes in our worship, from choirs to vocalists, from organists to worship leaders, from pianos to guitars, from hymns to choruses and on to anthems, I have experienced, and probably been party to, some moments of arrogance, of unhelpful words, and disparaging critisism of what has gone before. Those pressing for the new wine often seem to be people who are disrespectful of the old wine. And I’m not sure that is Jesus’ way.

Jesus himself represented a complete change when He came walked this earth. His appearance heralded the end of the sacrificial form of worship, the end of the temple as the only place of worship. He represented the ultimate challenge to old wine and the greatest initiator of all things new. Yet despite this, he remained totally respectful of what went before. Whether that was in the way he remained in the temple when he was 12 teaching in the place he called his Father’s house, or whether later in His life in the clearing of the temple of the traders. Yes, He was very obviously critical of hypocrisy of some of the religious leaders, but alongside that he seemed to be totally respectful of the institutions and places of worship that had for so long been the focal point of people’s worship.

It seems to me that we could, as a generation of worship leaders seeking the new things, learn to be more respectful of the things, and people, that have gone before. In our desire to continually catch the wind of the Spirit and where He blows, let us never become disrespectful of those things and people who have brought us thus far.

Having respect doesn’t mean that we aren’t challenging and forthright when we sense change is needed. It just ensure we handle that change in a dignified and godly way.


4 Comments so far
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Neil – The last sentence sums up the problem…what is ‘Godly and dignified’ to one person maybe disrespectful to another. Tricky ones…

Taking out the pews.
Getting rid of the OHP’s (Ohh, could have made a good pun in your blog on this..OAP vs OHP)
Motion Dive Tokyo instead of ‘lovely’ banners that never change.
Waving flags or not waving flags.
Lyrics that have the line ‘nah, nah, nah, nah’.
Music sounding like it could be in the charts now as opposed to 1970/80’s.
Screaming/shouting/falling/blowing/chopping/wobbling/[insert weird body movement] in the spirit.
Shouting to God.
Encouraging Fat Boy Slim ‘Praise You’ style dancing by the kids.
Encouraging Kate Bush style dancing by middle aged women.

The list goes on…!

Great blog…keep posting.

Comment by Andy


Very funny!! we have all been there…

And as for ‘kate bush style dancing’ we all know exactly what you mean!

keep leaving the comments!


Comment by Neil Bennetts

kate bush is awesome

Comment by David Gate

That’s because she’s you’re ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ partner.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention that it wasn’t just about respect for Jesus. He actually viewed his ministry, replete with all its ‘newness’ as fulfilling the old. How would that change our approach to innovation if we sought fulfill the spirit and purpose of the worship that has gone before us?
Brian Howell

Comment by Anonymous

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