For the Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University. Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

This world is amazing. Everywhere we turn we see images and reflections of God. An excursion to some of the magnificent natural wonders of the natural world testify to Gods artistic genius. Mountain ranges, tropical rain forests, the frozen Antarctic, and gigantic waterfalls all testify to Gods love of designing and creating. But it doesn’t stop there, he has designed galaxies, star clusters, nebulas, black holes and many, many things we haven’t even seen yet.

My idea of art is to paint a picture, make a sketch, write a song or music. How quaint that seems in light of Gods idea of art. Yet as subcreators made in his image, we don’t seem to be able to contain it. From our earliest history we have art in the form of cave paintings. Some of the first civilizations (Sumer and Babylon) wrote long epic stories about heroes, gods and goddesses, and they were very creative about it, especially considering there were no predecessors to learn from. How would Tolkien or George Lucas do without any forerunners in their field. The ancients may have not had as much knowledge as us but they may have been far more inventive and imaginative than we could ever dream of.

Yet we continue to create and invent. Romans chapter 1 says that man is forever inventing new ways to sin. What if we took that idea and turned it on it’s head? What if we were forever inventing new ways to worship, and express our worship to God? If we have the unlimited potential to invent new ways to sin (worship ourselves, or false gods), then it stands to reason that we have the unlimited potential to invent new ways to worship God.

In spite of thousands of years of human history, there was never the sound of music like today. Before there was any type of structured musical system there were no Mozart’s and no Bach’s. Before electricity and modern technology the world never heard the sounds that Jimi Hendrix made on his guitar, or Bob Moog with his synths. As history marches on we continue to discover that sound and waves (music) is a far deeper mystery than we ever dreamed of.

What was once considered a noise, is now music. Distortion and dissonant sound waves that were once offensive and undesirable find place in many of our songs today. Sometimes it’s the paradoxical school of thought, the contrasting voice, that makes the song interesting and enjoyable.

When you translate this idea of harmonic dissonance into biblical language, it speaks of the Trinity (perichoresis); three individuals all unique and separate, yet in perfect harmony. Our song about who God is suddenly has depth and mystery. It has, on the surface, contradictory ideas; but when you delve deeper you see that there is no other way to describe God in human terms other than paradox’s. This makes ours song interesting and textured. It turns peoples heads… just like the distortion of a well played guitar.

It also speaks of the beauty of diversity in community and relationships. Our song becomes interesting when we embrace and celebrate the distinct cultures and worship expressions. It adds intensity when we learn to love each other in spite of our obvious differences… just like oscillations of a Moog synth.

A wonderful example of this in worship is the few times I’ve been in a church service where hundreds of people are all simultaneously singing in tongues. Each person is singing in his own unique voice, his own key, and his own meter. It’s (in my opinion) one of the more beautiful sounds in all of creation that I’ve ever experienced. Extremely diverse and yet somehow extremely harmonic.

NT Wright said in the video Creation Integration, that it is our job to “gather up everything the creation has been doing and to come and present it before God.” And that while doing so we are giving a “voice to creations praise.” A small part of this thought is the discovery of new sounds, textures, harmonic dissonance, and noise and the related technologies that enable us add their worship to ours.

I look forward to the creativity coming out of worship experiences. I look forward to finding new ways to worship. And I look forward to science and technology discovering new things about the universe that we can lay at the feet of God in worship and praise.