Pastor Messer at Abide in My Word is asking for comments on a video he recently posted. It is a great example of what many of us mean these days when we use the term "Contemporary Worship." (I capitalize the words to make a distinction between worship that is Contemporary and worship that is contemporary. All worship is by definition small "c" contemporary since it is something that happens in the present.)
Anyway, I encourage you to watch the video and participate in the discussion. As I was doing just that, I came across another video from the same church, Faith Lutheran in Troy, Michigan, that I think is quite lovely. It is a flute choir, accompanied by piano, playing an arrangement of "Be Still, My Soul" as the Prelude to the service. Whereas my church would never present anything musically comparable to the video posted at Pastor Messer's blog, I could easily see us doing something like this. It is a reverent instrumental interpretation of a hymn from our synodical hymnal (LSB 752) presented at an appropriate time in the service. The problem comes when the Prelude is over. Instead of embracing the stillness and quiet of that moment when the music is over and the service is about to start, the "audience" breaks into applause. What happened to "Be Still, My Soul"? And then, wouldn't you know it, the pastor has to come out and add his own two cents about the whole thing (starting at about 3:40 in the video):
"Praise God for instruments, right? I hope that that music that was played would help set your minds on, as the Bible says, things above, not on earthly things . . . . When we come in to worship . . . that's God's doing, and He's here, right with us, and He helps us to worship, Amen?" That comment is followed by an introduction and additional chatter.
Before I opine further, here's the video:
Again, I think the music is very nice. The applause and the pastor's comments ruin it. How much better if once the Prelude were over the service continued, without interruption, into the Confession and Absolution. No discussion needed. Just confess the sins and get the absolution. It's almost as if by talking about how God is present, the pastor is trying to convince himself and the congregation of the fact. The pastor is correct in saying that worship is "God's doing" but then he contradicts that statement with all his talk. And that's the problem with much of the Contemporary Worship I see. The people so often seem to be trying to convince themselves that God is acting by their talking and singing about how they feel. If we trust that God is present in Word and Sacrament we don't need to talk about it, we don't need to demonstrate it, and we don't need to look to others to demonstrate it to us. All we need to do is soak it in.
In sum, we don't need to try so hard.