Saturday, March 5, 2011

Be glorified in me ... sort of.

Good and brilliant friends and I are working on an alternative worship service for the Luther community during Lent.

The task I'm sharing with Jami now is to find praise and worship music that is theologically and Biblically sound and also not male-centric, self-glorifying, or triumphalist.

Which means the classics of my days with the evangelicals are off the list:
- Days of Elijah (Biblically incorrect)
- Come, Now Is the Time to Worship (self-glorifying)
- Forever (male-centric)

I've been digging through my old files as well as looking at new music (even contemporary Lutheran music!  who'd'a'thunk?) and realizing:

A lot of the focus is a me-and-Jesus kind of thing.

You considered me a friend, capture my heart again

Let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You

I am so tired of compromising

Those who linger on this river's shore will come back thirsting for more of the Lord

Main theme:  Jesus, you are awesome; come to me, purify me.

None of this is bad; Lutheran theologians and scholars know that our roots lie in Martin Luther's conviction that we are depraved sinners & saved only by the grace of Christ.

But what are we being purified for?  I am not interested in insular self-transformation.  There is no point to purifying myself in a building with other purified individuals.  I can pray for purification alone.

And I can't wait to be purified & then go and save the world; it's too much time and not enough Spirit.  I'm a saint and a sinner.  There is no ladder to ascend; each day I start again from the bottom of my barren self.  Waiting for purification is not the answer.  I go and do my work even though I am broken and foolish and certain to fail somewhere.  It doesn't matter.

What I need, at this moment in my life, is not music that celebrates Jesus' death for me, or His ability to purify my soul.  I need music that celebrates the community, that lifts up the family of Jesus and declares our broken willingness to go out preaching and living His story of mercy and liberation in the kingdom of G-d.

But there aren't a lot of songs for that.

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