They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
I am going to go out on a limb this time and talk about worship instead of music although the two are practically synonymous in our culture. From the Scripture found in Acts 2:42, we have a clear description of how worship should progress. Teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread and prayer – these things come before we give to those in need. It is because of worship that our hearts and lives are changed, causing us to want to serve Christ in our world. When we listen to the teaching as found in the Scripture and sermon, when we pray and share at the Lord's Table, we become more Christ-like in our lives and in our actions.
In the Old Testament, there are many examples of this pattern – God appears, gives instruction, a sacrifice is made and the people are changed. Think Moses, Abraham, Noah, etc. It is this pattern which permeates our worship. God calls us to worship, we read and hear Scripture in various forms, we share at the Table and we are changed. When our worship is centered on God, when it is infused with Scripture in many places and forms, when it is corporate in nature and done for the glory of God, when it invites response from the people and encourages people to change, then we will re-enter the everyday world with a renewed spirit, willing to be Christ wherever we go.
Worship that embraces this pattern of revelation by God and response by his people is so radical that it is almost frightening! Are we a mission-minded community of believers, committed to changing the world for Christ? Absolutely! Do we want our people to see this mission as their own? Yes. Then we must make sure our worship is as close to the Biblical model as possible so that people have the depth of faith necessary to carry out the mission Christ gave to each one of us – go make of all disciples! More to come next time.
Book Alert: Selecting Worship Songs: A Guide for Leaders. Dr. Constance Cherry, Mary Brown and Christopher Bounds. ISBN 978-1931283427, Triangle Publishing, If you have ever wanted to evaluate the content of the songs you sing, this is the place to go. This book includes a matrix for evaluating songs based on theological content, language and musical content. Points are assigned for inclusion of particular doctrinal references. Musical evaluations are made on the singability of songs as well as the depth of the language of the text. This is one book all worship leaders should use on a weekly basis.
Handbell Alert: A Merry Heart, Cynthia Dobrinski, CGB470, Choristers Guild, This 2-3 octave piece is played completely through with mallets. It would work well for concerts or as prelude or postlude. Because it involves mallets only, the tempo marking is quite fast - 160! This piece will challenge your ringers without overwhelming them and allow them to perfect their mallet technique.
Choral Alert: Immanuel, God's Precious Gift of Love. Cindy Berry, #35027304, Harold Flammer. Celebrating the gift of Jesus, this Christmas anthem is 2 part, making it accessible for all choirs. While the first 38 measures are unison, they could be divided between upper and lower voices for variety. Bits of "The First Noel" are used for the 2- part section.
Piano Alert: Contemporary Hymns & Songs I and II. #8196. John Carter. Hope Publishing. Piano duets can provide meaningful service music as preludes, postludes, offertories or special music. This volume contains arrangements of familiar songs such as Change My Heart, O God, Shine, Jesus, Shine and Shout to the Lord. The two piano parts are of equal difficulty. A very useful volume.
Organ Alert: An Album of Trumpet Tunes. Compiled by Dale Tucker,Belwin-Mills, GB9709. Franklin Ashdown, Flor Peeters and David Lasky are three of the composers represented in this volume. All of these trumpet tunes are suitable for celebratory worship or weddings. The famous Trumpet Tune by Jeremiah Clarke is included. This book contains many useful pieces.