I was talking with three of the guys after Bible study this morning, and our conversation touched on worship styles.  One of them mentioned that “the worship is better” at our church’s Saturday night services than the services on Sunday morning, and the other two agreed.  By that, they meant that the music is louder, with more “hard rock” feel, and they rarely sing any hymns (those they do are even more modernized than the ones in Sunday’s “Contemporary Christian Music” style).

Worship is more than music.  This is not my main point, and I merely mention it for clarity.  My use of the terms “worship” and “worship style” in this post are limited to music.

I countered to my friends with the statement that “better” is an opinion, and the style of worship I prefer is not a style that is or will ever be found in our church.  “Mentioning that you don’t sing hymns,” I said, “is not a way to encourage me to attend.”  If I had my druthers, we’d have an organ, and the choir would sing amazingly complicated chorales every week; they would wear robes, and we’d pull out those dusty old hymnal books.  But that will never happen.  For one thing, there’s no money for an organ.  For a second, our choir director holds the opinion that choir robes are of the devil.  (I’m exaggerating a bit there.)

His point is that he doesn’t want a separation between the choir and the congregation; people serving in worship ministries are no better than anyone else.  We’re all just parts of the Body of Christ, using our gifts as we’re able.  And that is a valid and excellent point.

My concern is that maybe we’ve lost something along the way.  There’s a big part of me that longs for the tradition, the ritual, the “smells and bells,” as it were.  I wonder if, in our quest to make God accessible and known, we may have lost God’s holiness, His separateness, His other-ness, His incomprehensibility.

Have we lost the sacred?

Frequently in our churches, we speak of God’s love and mercy.  But rarely do we hear of God’s power and righteous anger.  How often do you hear the story of Christ forgiving the woman caught in adultery (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”)?  And how often do you hear the story of Christ clearing the Temple (“My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of thieves!”)?  In fact, how often do you hear the name “Christ”?  In our rush to claim, “Jesus is my homeboy,” do we forget the perfect holiness that Christ calls us to?

I’m not trying to say that He is two separate personalities.  In fact, just the opposite.  I’m trying to say that He is One and maybe we are polarizing our view of God, that maybe we need to remember He Himself is “more than we could ask or imagine.”

I love my church, and I accept that they choose to worship in the way they do for very good reasons.  And I will worship along with them and also support their leadership–even if I might prefer some different style (perhaps especially so, but that’s a topic for another post).

But I still feel we’re missing something.

What about you?  How do you balance this tension between the familiar and the sacred?  Does it even occur to you?