Tuesday evening’s worship service was entitled “A Renewed Church Leadership”, going along with the theme for the week, “All Things New”. Music was led by the combined musicians of Orangewood Presbyterian in Maitland, Florida and Seven Rivers Presbyterian in Lecanto, Florida (as well as assembly organist Larry Roff leading us on a couple of the hymns).
This was the most varied night in regards to music. We had everything from solo organ to a heavily sequenced rock-style arrangement. The chosen songs were:
- Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
- Words: Henry Lyte, Music: LAUDA ANIMA
- Before the Throne of God Above
- Words: Charitie L. Bancroft, Music: Vicki Cook
- O the Wonderful Cross (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
- Words: Isaac Watts, (Chorus: Chris Tomlin and JD Walt), Music: HAMBURG, (Chorus: Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves)
- Words: Clara T. Williams, Music: Karl Digerness
- Jesus, Thank You
- Words and Music: Pat Sczebel
- Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners
- Words: J. Wilbur Chapman, Music: HYFRYDOL
Skip Ryan gave a testimony of his tumbling spiral of addiction and need for approval as well as the Lord’s faithfulness in delivering him. It was a powerful moment to hear how a man who had been in such a place of power and prestige within the denomination had found freedom precisely in losing those things that had given him power and prestige.
Dr. Paul Kooistra’s sermon was a call for unity.
The most memorable moment of the service for me, however, was in the corporate prayer which was taken from the Valley of Vision. It is called “Continual Repentance”:
O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.
“I need my tears to be washed.”
What a powerful image.
This was probably the service that inspired the criticisms of “schizophrenic” worship. It’s a shame that those charges were leveled. Having worshiped with both Orangewood and Seven Rivers, I know from personal experience that the styles used in the service, from very traditional to very “contemporary” (for lack of a better word), were reflections of the congregations that they serve. Is it possible to do multiple styles well? Yes, absolutely. Is it a healthy thing for churches to embrace both old and new? I believe so. Is “blended” music the only way to worship God faithfully? Of course not.