This is an article I wrote for our church’s monthly newsletter. The picture makes me really hungry… man, what I would give for a Little Caesars stuffed crust hawaiian pizza…
If you were to ask me what my favourite food is I would without reservation say “pizza”! As far back as I can remember pizza has always been the one food that I would eat morning, noon and night (I blame the influence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for this). No matter how common a menu item it is, or how often I eat it, it never ceases feeling like a treat.
I remember one time as a kid trying to convince my mom that I should eat pizza for breakfast. “It’s the perfect food,” I said. “It contains all of the food groups: grain, dairy, meat, vegetables”.
She didn’t go for it (probably because of the other food groups it contained: grease, fat, salt, etc.)
One of the reasons I am so passionate about music and corporate praise as a form of worship is because, like pizza, it contains so many of the different elements that make up the bigger picture of what worship is and all in a universally appreciated package. In other words, music/corporate praise is one of the most holistic ways to worship God.
When we get together to sing on Sundays we have the opportunity to praise God with our lips, to hear and lift up his Holy Word, to deny ourselves by doing something we may not want to do out of obedience, to serve others by embracing worshipful expressions that aren’t necessarily to our personal liking (eg. music styles), serve by blessing others around you with your voice (no matter what you think of it)… not to mention singing songs that are prayers for the world, confessions of our sin, and expressions of surrender to his will.
And that’s just our response.
Music/corporate praise is also one of the ways that the Spirit of God visits us and softens/changes our hearts through the awakening of our spirits. I am rarely more open or desiring to being shaped and formed by God and his Word then after spending time praising him… even if some of those times begin with me just going through the mechanical motions of singing.
Music/corporate praise can bring emotional healing. I can’t count how many times I’ve shown up to a mid-week rehearsal or a Sunday morning burdened, drained and/or despairing and been lifted out of my darkness just by making music with other people who have Jesus in common.
Music/corporate praise can also bring physical healing. Andy Park tells a story in his book “To Know You More” about a woman from his church:
“Brenda… had stomach problems for years. She had experienced lots of pain, seen lots of doctors, adopted a special diet and taken medication. Many years ago she freely expressed worship for the first time and wonderfully experienced God’s presence. As she was singing the words “His name is as ointment poured forth,” God showed her a picture of the finger of Jesus applying ointment to the rough, red, sore lining of her stomach. After the meeting she wondered if she should dare eat a regular lunch or play it safe, take her medication and stay on her restricted diet. She decided to eat a normal lunch. She was healed and never had another problem!”
So, in this one act of singing songs together we have the opportunity to praise God, lift up and reflect on his Word, sacrifice, obey, serve, pray, have our hearts changed, experience healing, unite not just with other churches and believers worldwide, but also heaven in the exalting of Jesus Christ… and all of this while participating in a medium that is not only universal across all languages and nations, but can be found and traced throughout all of human history. And on top of all of that, it’s fun, enjoyable, engaging and easy to participate in, regardless of skill or experience. Good grief!
May we never take for granted gift of music or the opportunity to make it for God week after week.