Summary: We serve because we’re surrendered and we sing out of submissive hearts.
The Place of Music in Worship
Rev. Brian Bill
[Video ends. A few announcements are made, then begin sermon. Jeff starts to tune guitar and begins sound checks.]
J: Check, check, hey can I get some more vocals in my monitor?
B: [Brian turns around and looks at Jeff]: What are you doing?
J: And could you turn him down?
B: [Turn around again]: Hey Jeff, what are you doing?
J: Getting ready to worship! Got to make sure my guitar is in tune, you know.
B: But I’m trying to preach here!
J: Brian, didn’t you get the memo? The series is called Worship Matters. It’s right here on the postcard. See, worship matters. Not preaching matters. Worship matters. Not praying matters, although it does to Packer fans. Not tithing matters, although that would make a great series. Worship Matters. So I thought we would just skip your part and get right to the real reason we are here.
B: First, worship is more than music -- it’s a lifestyle of surrender and service of worship to God. Second, what do you mean “the real reason we are here?”
J: Brian, I hate to break it to you but a lot of people want to worship, not sit through a bunch of talking. They are anxious to sing their hearts out to God. You don’t see anyone sleeping during the worship time do you? Really, if you are going to call it Worship Matters then, well, worship better be the main attraction.
B: I think you are missing the point. We are going to worship through preaching, then through our praising. It’s all worship. You see?
J: Ahhh, no. Let me get this straight. When we watched the video?
J: When we listen to announcements?
J: When we listen to the preaching?
J: When we take the offering?
J: When we sing?
B: Yes, when we sing it is Worship! Just wait, after the sermon you’ll get to lead people in praise to our amazing God.
J: After the sermon? We have to wait a whole hour?!
As we learned last week, worship is a verb and is not just what we do here on Sunday mornings. True worship is the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices to Him [hold up piece of wood] and living holy and pleasing lives, every day of the week. We gather together to worship God on Sundays and then scatter the rest of the week to worship Him wherever He has placed us. This is “everywhere worship” or worship as a way of life because we were not designed to operate on a weekly worship cycle but rather to run on a 24/7 worship lifestyle.
We were challenged to not just think “worship service” but to think in terms of “service worship.” Since God’s desire is to make us into the image of His Servant-Son it makes sense for us to serve like He served. Pick up the towel. Look for needs. Serve in secret. Give without anyone knowing what you’re doing.
Not only should we be involved in “service worship,” we should also be involved in “singing worship.” In his book called “Worship in Spirit and Truth,” John Frame writes: “In Scripture there are two groups of…terms that are translated ‘worship.’ The first group refers to ‘labor’ or ‘service.’ The second group of terms means literally ‘bowing’ or ‘bending the knee.’” We serve because we’re surrendered and we sing out of submissive hearts, bowing before the Greatness of God. This is captured in Psalm 95:6: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Our emphasis today is on the place of music in bowing before God in worship as we proclaim and cherish His words, His works and His worthiness.
Martin Luther once said: “The devil takes flight at the sound of music, just as he does at the words of theology…After theology I give the highest place and greatest honor to music.” J.S. Bach believed that music was a “refreshment of spirit,” a powerful tool for the proclamation of the gospel. Ultimately, he believed that music brought glory to God – that’s why the initials SDG (Soli Deo Gloria, which means “To God alone be glory”) are found at the end of most of his scores. The initials JJ appear at the top of many of his pieces, which mean Jesus Juva, or “Jesus help us.”
Unfortunately many of us get things turned around. We tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship. Friends, nothing in life is more important than learning how to worship! Music has a huge place in magnifying God as praising appears from Genesis through Revelation. Singing out to our triune God started way back at creation in Job 38:7 where we hear this canticle of praise: “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” The first record of music-making in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:21: “Jubal… was the father of all who play the harp and flute” and an anthem of adoration is recorded as a refrain in the last book of the Bible. Revelation 5:13-14: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”