Music in church . . . it can be a touchy subject. Some want the old hymns. Some appreciate the old lyrics put to a new beat. Others resonate with "contemporary," a form of words and music that is totally contextual to our day.
When it comes to music in church there are probably as many opinions as there are people in attendance. So perhaps for this weekend we could agree on just one little thing---the volume.
Turn it up!
I have been reading 1 Chronicles as part of my own "quiet time" time with God. Ironically, in my quiet the Lord is teaching me the importance of loud:
David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brothers Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their brothers, Ethan the son of Kushaiah;and with them their brothers of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel.The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals;Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth;but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith.Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it. 1 Chronicles 15:16-22 ESV
If you think I am an advocate for abolishing quiet reflective moments in church or doing away with all moments somber, believe me when I say, "I am not."
Read on ...
At the same time I was absorbing those words from the Chronicler, I was preparing a message from Acts. Preparation can be an intense meandering affair (see the post "Dependence Day"). My study took me to the doorstep of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones was a twentieth-century physician-turned-preacher from Great Britain. The book, Authentic Christianity is a collection of sermons he gave from the book of Acts.
The serious-minded doctor gets to the heart of why there should be unbridled--and at times very loudly expressed--joy among God's people. He writes of the early believers:
And they give practical demonstration of their faith by leaving the world to which they belonged and joining, being "added to," the church, which consists of these people who have an entirely new view of the meaning of life, a new view of themselves, a new view of the meaning of history and of why things are as they are, a new view of death, a new view of eternity, a new view of God, and a new view of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and the Savior of their souls. Oh, it is entirely new. They are controlled by this; it is at the center. They are indeed born again and are children of God.
Lloyd-Jones recognized the astounding work God has done on our behalf and what it should do to us. David saw this too. David commanded the singers to "play loudly on musical instruments" because there are those times when that's all we can do. We are so blown away by the greatness of God and his goodness to us that we have to express our gratitude and praise by playing a little louder and singing a little stronger.
I am praying that is my heart this weekend -- and I am praying it is your too.
Turn up the music!
"And they give practical ..." from David Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Authentic Christianity by Elizabeth Catherwood and Ann Desmond. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. 2000. Page 74.