Friday, July 30, 2010

Do You Feel Like Dancing?

It is more or less undeniable that, having finished a seminary education, I often cannot help but look at worship gatherings with a different perspective than a person without such a background would have.  To quote Adrian Monk: "It's a gift.  And a curse."

At one recent worship experience, during the time of praise singing, we came to the song I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.  For those who don't know, here's the "bridge," which comes after we've done the chorus a couple of times:
Oh, I feel like dancing.  It's foolishness I know.
But when the world has seen the light,
They will dance with joy like we're dancing now.
Now, if I then proceed to mention that we were singing this in a Presbyterian church, it probably goes without saying that no one was actually dancing during this sequence (of course, I imagine the traditions wherein the congregation would have been dancing at this point are actually relatively few, but I can say from personal experience that it's not for nothing that Presbyterians are often called "the frozen chosen").  Does that make us hypocritical?

There's a part of me that wants to argue that a music leader that knows his congregation well, and who knows that the congregation is not made up of "dancers," should probably avoid having them sing a song where they announce that they are dancing.  It just seems wrong somehow. 

On the other hand, praise songs and hymns aren't only meant to work as expressions of who we are and what we believe about God already.  They are also meant to remind us of what we should or could become.  Or, to look at it another way, they remind us of things that perhaps we've forgotten.  Should we require that only people who think of themselves as "saved wretches" be allowed to sing Amazing Grace?  If we did that, would we not run the risk of people never fully coming to realize just what God has done for them? 

People learn the truths of the gospel through all sorts of ways.  Reading the Bible and listening to sermons, as important and indispensable as they are, are by no means the only ones.  Hymns and praise songs are also a rich source of theological knowledge.  People learn things through music that they may not learn by any other means.  For those who come to know God better for having experienced these songs, we give God praise.

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