A few weeks ago I got a letter from a new convert to the Faith

Now her husband writes me and has some interesting remarks as somebody who has background as a worship leader in an Evangelical Church:

This is P, K’s husband. Thank you for your encouraging reply to her email.  It has been a fantastic journey and we are so excited to be home!  I would like to elaborate a little on K’s comment about putting too much emphasis on music.  This really has been an important correction to our (especially my) way of thinking and I’m so grateful to The Lord for opening my eyes and heart to it.

Being a musician, music has obviously been important to me.  Being involved in Christian music, and then eventually worship music, music has been a central part of my life since I was a teenager.  I remember attending Creation Fest in Pennsylvania in the 80′s and loving it when a group or artist like Michael W. Smith would incorporate a worship time with their regular song set.  In my early 20′s, I signed up with Hosanna Integrity to receive a new worship CD every month, full of great songs that we could do during our church worship times.  I was so excited when Matt Redman came on the scene and finally brought acoustic guitar led worship to the main stream.

I learned what I believe is still important advice from one of my favorite worship leaders, Bob Kauflin, that the Gospel needs to be the center of any worship time.  Worship is about responding to God’s amazing love for us. The best way to understand how amazing that is, is to sing about what He did to save us.  When we realize our desperate need for a savior, and then realize what Jesus did for us, we can’t help but to respond with overflowing thankful hearts and exuberant praise.  Gospel centered worship…what could be wrong with that!

What I eventually realized is that, the problem wasn’t the message, or even the songs, but that the worship time often was the highlight…the “end” rather than the means.  One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve studied church history is how Calvin removed the altar and replaced it with the pulpit.  Well, without regard to the altar at all, I didn’t necessarily replace the pulpit, but pushed it aside to give prominence to the worship time.  Which means of course, the Lord’s Supper had no prominence whatsoever.  Once a month, we would include it in our worship time (symbolically of course), but that was about it.

Once I got blindsided by the two-by-four of John 6, and realized what Christ said in the Last Supper accounts, and what St. Paul was really saying in 1Corinthians, I realized that the center of worship for the early church wasn’t singing, but was the breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist.

It was a wonderful revelation. It was also a little painful.  All these years, I thought I was leading my children wisely, making sure they understood what we were singing and why.  What I failed to convey however, was that  the emphasis that I put on music and singing was not the emphasis that Christ and the Church put on it.  Heartfelt singing is great, and I still love it, but it’s a means to an end.  The end is an action, it’s the Blessed Sacrament! The unfortunate result for one who has been taught this way, is that when the choir doesn’t sound that great, and people don’t appear to be singing with exuberance, then it doesn’t seem “real”.  Even though we attend the contemporary Mass where the songs are often the same Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, etc., songs that we would often do in our former church, because of the difference in presentation, it doesn’t seem heartfelt, so it’s disregarded as not genuine.

So, as K said, there has been an over emphasis on music.  While K and I, our oldest (daughter) and our youngest son have embraced the authority of the Church, and have submitted to the teachings, our middle son, has been struggling to see it.  Basically, he’s following in his father’s footsteps as a musician, but also embracing what I’ve taught him.  He loves to sing, and he loves to worship The Lord through singing and reflecting on the Gospel.  (Which I am so thankful for). But he doesn’t (yet) see the importance of the Eucharist. I’m grateful that the evangelical church he’s attending is full of dear friends that we know, love, trust and still meet up with and talk with.  I pray constantly though, that he will come to the understanding and realization that there’s so much more to worship than just singing.

We’ve heard many times over the years that love is an action word.  I now see that worship is not just singing, but is an action word that culminates in the action of receiving.  Receiving the very Body and Blood of Christ.

I always find it fascinating at the circuitous route by which people come to see the truth about the Eucharist.  So wonderful to see such a gifted person come to the Table–and understand rightly ordered priorities.  Thanks be to God.

  • Julie Peitz Nickell

    I’ve always wondered how hard satan works to keep people away from the Eucharist. Surely he doesn’t ignore that. Praise be to God for this wonderful Christian to find the Catholic Church. The converts are some of the biggest gifts we get from Jesus. And thank you Jesus.

  • James H, London

    Ideally, I think, we should have both.

    Chris Tomlin’s music has been a vital mood-lifter and God-focus to me in the past 7 and a half months I’ve been unemployed. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it.


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