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Summary: This is the thid week of a sermon series based on a book by Robert Schnase. It uses the worship wars between contemporary and traditional worship services as the basis to question... what is worship?

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Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

“Passionate Worship”

A long time Christian went to the big city one weekend and attended a fancy big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise songs instead of hymns." "Praise songs," said his wife, "What are those?" "Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different," said the man. "Well, what’s the difference?" asked his wife. The man said, "Well it’s like this - If I were to say to you: ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

‘Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, corn, corn… are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the CORN, CORN, CORN. The cows, the cows… are in the corn, corn, CORN.’

Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing about seven times, well that would be a praise song."

A new Christian was visiting relatives in a small town one weekend and attended a small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of praise songs." "Hymns," said his wife, "What are those?" "Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like praise songs, only different," said the young man. "Well, what’s the difference?" asked his wife. The young man said, "Well it’s like this - If I were to say to you, ’Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a praise song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

‘Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry!

Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear, by and by…

to the righteous, immutable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals is terribly uncouth!

There in their heads is no shadow of sense…

They sneak into my corn unless they are fenced.

They have broken free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.

Then all my mild sweet corn they have utterly chewed.

So look to that bright shining day, by and by…

Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry…

Where all good things of the earth are reborn,

And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.’

"Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well, that would be a hymn."

You could ask ten different people what “Passionate Worship” means… and you would get ten different answers. I mean… we can’t even agree on what “worship” is… little less on what “Passionate Worship” might be. We have to label and categorize our worship experiences so people can pick the worship services that actually worship God… and not that other drivel that has no place in a church. “Contemporary Worship.” “Traditional Worship.” “Blues Worship.” “Evangelical Worship.” “Half-Caff, Non-fat, No-whip Latte worship.”

There are as many churches made in the classic gothic theme as there are metal buildings with a cross on the top of them. There are churches that follow Calvin’s classic five movements in worship, like we have in our bulletin… and then there are churches that have no bulletin whatsoever. And let’s not get too deep into the Organ versus Drums argument. It makes me ask a very fundamental question in the midst of all these different kinds of worship experiences… “What is worship?” “What music is right?” “What form is right?” “What venue is right?” “Which worship truly glorifies God?”

Let me get into this just a little bit with a story. A few months ago, a couple of women came to our church trying to find the house that their Grandmother used to live in 40 years ago. During our conversation… the focus turned to the question… “What kind of worship do you have here?” Me… being the stinker that I am responded rather bold faced… “We worship God here.” The woman cocked her head a little, assumed I didn’t understand her, and insisted again… “No, I mean do you have ‘Contemporary Worship’ or ‘Traditional Worship?’” Still… being a bit of a stinker I asked, “What’s the difference?” “Well,” she said, “If I were to say to you… ‘Pastor, the cows are in the corn.”

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