Originally posted Oct. 24, 2012, at Church Outloud. Republished with permission of the author.
Music. It fills our lives. There is little we do on a given day that doesn’t involve a sound track. Whether one of our choosing, or one chosen for us. Work out at the gym. Wait in the doctor’s office. Stop at Starbucks for a coffee. You’ll hear music.
Music is at the heart of our worship lives as well as our daily lives. Everyone has their preference when it comes to music in church. Traditional or contemporary? Organ or piano? Robed choir or polo-shirted praise team?
Even how we respond to music causes us to draw up sides. To clap or not to clap, that is the question in many Lutheran and mainline congregations.
“It’s not a performance,” someone will inevitably point out. Leaving us to ponder the age-old question, does a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one hears it? Or in this case, is it music if no one performs it?
When you cut through all the noise, music serves basically two purposes in worship.
Music is an offering. We offer prayer and praise to God through music. God is the audience. Does God prefer a certain style of music? Most of the arguing around music is just people insisting that yes, God does and oddly enough, God prefers exactly what I do.
But I don’t think God has a preference, any more than God prefers a certain type of flower or has a favorite color. In fact, I think the music God hears is different from the music we hear, whatever the style.
God hears the music that echoes in the soul of the person performing it. Be it Bach or hip-hop. The truly great performers and memorable performances pull back the curtain to give a glimpse of that soul. Including the soul of the listener.
This is the second thing that music does. It provides a vehicle for God to speak to us. A way to move us. Music bypasses the prefrontal static of our lives and directly engages our emotions. Music has the power to stir us and to calm us. While the ear hears and the brain evaluates, the foot taps blissfully in another world.
Find a link to Charles Oberkehr’s entry on the blog Church Outloud at Lutheran Blogs.