We had Sean and Aimee Dayton come share a night of worship singing with us. It was really nice. We had the two of them for dinner and got to hear their hearts. I think their church is really blessed to have them leading the worship in song. I've been thinking a bit about songs recently. Frost, in his terrific book "Exiles", goes on a bit of a rant against the content of modern worship songs. In some ways I completely agree that our songs need to help us imagine a better world - a world of justice. But I'm also torn because for me part of that vision of justice includes a restoration of that relationship with God and a heartfelt response of love towards the one who first loved us. I find that this is a fine line though. When worship songs idolize the personal, as if Jesus were some sort of boyfriend - well that misses it. That makes it too easy for us to stick our heads up our arses, thinking that this all revolves around us. It does not. I don't buy the platitude that if we were the only person Jesus would has died for me - I don't need that kinda self-importance to recognize the utter privilege of Christ's redemptive act on the cross. If it is about anyone it has to be about Jesus. Yet, there is still an intimacy I don't think we should give up. Here is the hard balance I'm looking for.
For me worship, intimate worship in song, has been profoundly liberating. It opens me up to trusting, surrendering myself to God and God's plans for my life. It is a gateway to something bigger. Here is where I think Frost's critique really makes sense - at this point it should help us imagine something bigger. Worship songs should lead us somewhere. If all they do is let us get lost in warm fuzzy feelings I think we are missing a whole dimension of what worship can be. I think we can have both.
I've been longing for worship songs that capture my heart and lead me to justice. I really like Sean's song, You Are Good, because it starts to move towards that vision. Why is God good? If God is good for no good reasons, then is God worth worshiping? But this song reminds us of where God is active - in the mess of life. In recognizing that we get a new vision of where we can find and participate with God. I think that makes good worship sense. What was interesting is that Sean and Aimee started the night with a song that can be interpreted as dangerously individualistic (not one of theirs) and brought us full round to the vision of You Are Good. I really appreciated that.