Thursday, June 28, 2007

Authentic Worship

I thought this excerpt on worship from Leadership Journal was worth passing on...

Authenticity and integrity in worship means expressing both lament and praise. Each element completes the other. Without lament, praise is little more than shallow sentimentality and a denial of life's struggles and sin. Without praise, lament is a denial of hope and grace, both of which are central to our life of faith and to God's promises.

To value one over the other is like suggesting that breathing in is more important than breathing out.

This is not only an issue of authenticity and integrity. It cuts to the heart of hospitality and pastoral sensitivity. For those coming to a worship service immersed in pain, celebratory praise takes on a mocking tone that excludes them. They are unable to join honestly in these choruses.

By incorporating expressions of sorrow, pain, and grief into our worship, as the psalms do, the hurting are ushered into God's presence with honesty. At the same time, the rest of the congregation is reminded of the suffering community gathered in their midst. They are invited to weep with those who are weeping. By honoring their pain, we acknowledge those who are suffering and affirm them in their grief.

Yet worship is not complete without turning to praise. When pain has been acknowledged, those who suffer are invited beyond their pain to consider God's faithfulness in the midst of suffering and even to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

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