Worshipping the Comfortable and Familiar

OK, I admit it. I’m an 80’s hairband junkie. In my earlier days, to which my high school friends can attest, I was a head banging guy. Loved all the groups. Have (and still have) much of the music. When I need a pump up or I need to workout, I have songs that, if I had hair, would help me whip it back and forth, all the time screaming the tunes of Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Ratt, and Motley Crue. Yeah, love that music.

A few weeks back, my subscription ran out on Sirius network. I had my 80’s station on the dial ready to go when I needed a lift. I’d get in the car, crank up the tunes and go. Sadly, no more instant 80’s tunes. As I now have moved on to other music and sports talk, I grieve the loss of my 80’s. No more being transported back to my high school days. No more recall of those great lyrics and screaming guitars. I’m truly sad. Yes, I have an iPhone, and yes, there are other ways stream my 80’s music, but Sirius has the MTV V-Jays on. How great was it to hear Martha Quinn each day? Or Allen Hunter? I was transported back. Let me just live there in my nostalgia and enjoy it.

The problem is that I can’t stay in that time period or that style of music. You see, when I went to college, I was offered music that was completely different that my 80’s hair band. I can remember the first time I sang with an orchestra. It changed my life. I can remember the first time that I sang as a member of an elite, select choir — extraordinary. I can remember the first time that I heard Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings in class. There is no more perfect piece of music than that composition.

And that’s not all. I’ve been changed by the songs of Lady Gaga . . . and Adele, too . . . and Brandon Heath . . . and Matt Maher . . . and Keith and Kristin Getty. My musical connection with the Holy is ever-evolving. If I stopped experiencing new music, I’d miss a whole world of new and exciting songs and compositions.

Worship is much the same way. We don’t worship the same way we did 300 years ago, let alone 30 years ago. Nothing wrong with the anthems, songs and prayers of that time and we should continue to use those familiar and comfortable things. Along with the written Word, they are the bedrock of our theology and faith. But if we only use those things, we miss an entire selection of new and fresh experiences that God has laid before us. If we stay with the too familiar, we begin to worship and the altar of comfort and familiarity. And, if we aren’t very careful, we begin to worship the acts themselves and not The Holy.

Again, nothing wrong with worshipping with the comfortable and familiar. There is certainly a GREAT deal of strength from the creeds, litanies, and prayers we have grown up with. But, we shouldn’t shut out and belittle new ways to worship The Holy either.

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