As we live in a world where increasing number of people, especially the younger ones, think that the traditional way of worshiping the Lord with hymns, pipe organs, mandolins and harps is inferior to the lively free form of contemporary worship that the more contemporary songs with keyboards, bass guitars and electronic drum pads bring, we need to take a second look at traditions and ascertain if we are missing an important facet of worship by relegating the timeless traditional form of worship as too archaic for the post modern man.
This Christmas, I attended St. John’s Divine Church a Houston instead of Lakewood because as much as I like Lakewood form of contemporary worship, I was getting starved of the mystic awe in the traditional form of worship.
Unifying the spirits
The service started with a concert and choir came in a procession with the incense being spewed out in front filling the Church with the kind of misty aura symbolic of the presence of God that filled the Church of Solomon in the form of a cloud. This unified the spirits of the congregation into humility and a reverent awe of God, simply said it was a symbolic act that set the mood right for a heavenly worship that was to follow.
A celebration of traditions as a mystic act of worship
When the singing started, the presence of God could be felt. I think the reason was the people who were singing in the Choir and the congregation had just one motive in their minds which was to glorify God with the best of their abilities using the ancient traditions in which is imbibed the glory of the mystical worship of God because those great arts were created for the sole purpose of using the grandiose creative geniuses of human kind to glorify God and place such creations of beauty at the feet of God as a mystic act of worship. Without God there is no beauty, without beauty there is no God. The experience overwhelmed the senses with the beauty of God’s creation glorifying Him in a mystic celebration of ancient arts.
I did notice a few people raise their hands in worship. And I wondered why people assume that raising hands in an act of worship is forbidden in traditional worship services.
God the only Celebrity
All worship God as one whole mass of individuals, there was no worship leader there was no lead singer there is no lead guitarist, there is no beautiful face to look up on the giant screens there is no Celebrity singer dressed in the costliest of dresses that captures too much attention, it is just a big choir raising up their voices in unison to glorify God, the only Celebrity in the whole enterprise.
Depth of Truth in Worship
The words of the ancient Hymns have a depth of meaning because they were wrought in the throes of the pain and the struggles that the great Saints of the great old ages endured. Unlike most contemporary song-writers, their song writing was not an art or a skill or something that gave them fortune and fame, but their songs were an expression the anguish of heart. The anguish they felt when they went through pain whether it be of suffering, love or pleasure, for the highest form of pleasure where beauty and love is the essence evokes a sense of pain in the mortal human heart.
Such eternal timeless truths exemplified through their writing reigns supreme in a traditional worship because of the harmony and resolution of music mystically resonates with the depth of Truth expressed. A person’s heart and mind are tuned to revel in the beauty of such Truths and the music serves only to incline ones heart and mind to assimilate the Truth.
The Right Chord
Such traditions have struck the right chord between worship in Spirit and Truth. God says that we ought to worship Him in spirit and Truth. In such ancient traditions we experience the mystic beauty of God’s Spirit and as we also revel in the great Truths which cause our throats to croak and sigh under the enormity of the weight of what is being sung.
As we were singing
‘What Child is this…
…Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.’
There wasn’t a tongue in the whole Church that did not sing in trepidation and awe the grandiose Truth so beautifully broughtout through the best of man’s creative genius, put at the feet of the King for His glory alone.