Your Mercy Is Like Worthless Bits of Paper: Dumb Words Churches Sing

If there’s one thing commercial Christian “worship” music does well, it’s mixing metaphor. There’s one “artist” who does it in nearly every song he writes. I’d tell you his name, but it always makes people mad and gets me lots of hate comments. So let’s just call him Thris Comlin.

My all-time favorite:

“And like a flood, his mercy reigns…”

Um…wait…what?

Shockingly, contemporary worshipers are often so quick to gloss over this sort of laziness, as if it contains some sort of charming hipster freshness.

“Finally Free” by Rend Collective has been out a while, but I first learned about it recently from a church music colleague. The first line struck her as being completely, utterly foolish. But when she brought it up to clergy in her congregation, she was rebuffed.

“This is beautiful! It’s artistic! It’s a great metaphor for God’s overflowing mercy toward his people!”

The line in question?

“Your mercy rains from heaven / like confetti at a wedding…”

Rains…

Like confett…

Like confetti at a wedding…

What in the world are we saying? Let’s think about it.

For one thing, confetti doesn’t “rain,” certainly not from heaven. Confetti is thrown by people, tossed gleefully about during momentary celebrations. It doesn’t simply appear from heaven and usher in the festivities. No, it’s thrown. And then it flits, it floats, and it falls.

I asked the internet, and found out people occasionally use confetti as a metaphor in one of two ways. First, people sometimes encourage others to “Throw sass like confetti.” I’m not actually sure what this means. Second and more positively, sometimes people say to throw kindness around like confetti.

Well, isn’t that nice!

I actually found a few instances on Facebook where folks used some version of this phrase:

“Another heavenly day in the heart of the Karoo, with the thorn trees spreading its seeds across the water like confetti at a wedding.” – Daniel D. (I kinda like this one…)

“I hate to say this Cdes, but my sniffing prowess has unravelled a serious campaign onslaught by Zanu PF. Their juggernaut is about to be unleashed upon us with the power of a whirlwind. The comodification of our politics will see them paint Zimbabwe in their colours in a way never seen before. Freebies will be spread all around Zimbabwe like confetti at a wedding.” – Mxolisi N. (Provocative. We should use the word juggernaut more often.)

“Just signed up for this,sick of losing every week on the national lottery, that gives money away like confetti at a wedding too mostly rubbish schemes.Now i can lose and feel good about it, knowing it will be going to people that so richly deserve it.People that have my admiration and respect.” – Ken “Wanna Pour Money Down a Rathole” D.

So what are we saying here about God and God’s great mercy? What is confetti really? No matter how fun and pretty it can be during its momentary descent to the earth below our feet, it is destined to become trash. It’s disposable. Worthless. A waste.

I know one thing for sure: God’s mercy, expressed through God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ, is not cheap like little bits of paper. It is so very costly. So costly, in fact, that it cost Jesus his life. And though freedom from sin and death is certainly worth celebrating, it will ultimately cost your life, too, if you do it right.

God’s mercy will endure. The confetti will not..

It crumples, disintegrates, and washes away. It becomes trash, refuse, litter, forgotten by all except those tasked with cleaning up the dirty, soggy mess.

So will these songs.

So will the frivolity and flippancy behind commercial Christian worship.

People of God, the words we use in worship must be refined. They must be carefully chosen, framing and carrying liturgical truth with dignity, sobriety, and gravity.

Or we might as well all get tipsy and throw tiny shreds of paper at each other.

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