A Focus on God

Featuring Posted on February 15, 2010

For more than sixty years the secrets and delight of Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) and Lord of the Rings (1954/5) were a well kept secret, savoured by fantasy and literature ‘geeks’. Then Hollywood took hold! Suddenly the world was alive with tiny little men with big feet on a secret mission to save their people.
Steinbeck’s East of Eden (1952) lay dormant on library shelves for more than 50 years until Oprah put it on her booklist in June of 2003. Suddenly there was a surge in sales.

We live at a time when anything good – or sometimes not so good – is packaged, repackaged, marketed and sold. People are drawn to success. If enough people say it’s good – well, then it must be good! Products, books, movies. We see it all the time in our society.

It’s really no different in the church.

My heart is filled with sadness when I find that worship has also been packaged and sold with screen savers and posters. Worship, in many ways, has become a commodity.

And the most successful packaging is through Christian worship music.

Worshipping through music is not new. Musical traditions and styles may have changed, but throughout the tradition of the Jewish community and the Christian church, music has been a strong component of corporate and individual worship.

Over the past 25 years, the church has participated in a change in music styles. The change is very similar to a change that happened in the mid to late 1800s, and just like the church then, today’s church struggles with change. When change begins, many good and honest people are suspicious about the ‘godliness’ of the change. At every moment of dynamic and powerful change throughout the history of Christianity, the church struggled and questioned.

Think of the first Christians. Ordinary men and women were convinced that a rebel in the Jewish tradition – crucified like an ordinary thief – was the Son of God. Jewish synagogue leaders were furious. They fought and killed because of that man in history.

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