This past week a song has been rolling around in my head, “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman. The song dates back to the late 1990s, born from a period of apathy within Matt’s home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England. Despite the church’s overall contribution to the current worship revival, Redman’s congregation was struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time.
“There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.” Reminding his church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?” (according to a story in www.crosswalk.com)
This made me think about our current situation where we are all at home, “Sheltering In Place.” It feels irresponsible of us not getting together to produce worship, as if the leadership is all together, and all we are missing is you…the congregation. It also feels like by doing that, we would be pretending that everything is the same, and only you are missing. But that isn’t the case at all. Nothing is normal right now. Life isn’t normal. Church isn’t normal. Based on our understanding of church, it’s not as if we felt like we were doing it “right” before, and now we are stuck with something less than church; we are no longer embodied, we are no longer sacramental. The truth of the matter is that we are not improved by our forced simplicity; we are gutted.
This is different from the Soul Survivor story.
However, I recognize that there is something powerful about gathering as a corporate body to worship. Doing it at home separately is certainly wonderful, and we encourage you to be worshipping with music at home. However, I am envisioning a moment where we anticipate what it’s going to be like to sing all the same songs at the same time as a body of believers TOGETHER in person.
When everything is stripped away, when the music fades, we are forced to come empty-handed to the Lord. What a perfect time to just offer ourselves to the Lord during Lent. Listen to Matt Redman’s words this week. Play it here. Join me as we wait with anticipation to come back to the heart of worship, where it is all about Jesus.
As your pastor, you need to know: I don’t know how long we will continue to be doing Morning Prayer together on Sunday mornings without worship songs, but this is where I believe Restoration needs to be right now during this Lenten season.
When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath!