What Texas Blues Taught Me About Worship
In memory Texas blues legend, Johnny Winter, who passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 70, it seemed timely to re-post this article by Fr. Chip from May 2014.
The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
--St. John iv. 23.
One of my friends posted something about guitarists, and I was thinking about who really set the gold standard. I thought about Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons...all who define the benchmark for the instrument.
But my fav is this guy. Stevie Ray Vaughn plays with everything he has. Heart and soul.
Leaves "it all on the field."
I really, really would have loved to see this guy meet Jesus, personally and powerfully. And use his mighty axe to worship him. How cool would that have been? Tragically, it’s too late for Stevie Ray, who, like many in his profession, died far too young. After listening to his work you could only imagine the power and heart his worship could have focused for the Kingdom.
This is the thing about worship: if we can love the Lord with all that we have--our heart, soul, mind and strength--and convey that to our worship life, that's the ticket the Lord's looking for. Nothing held back. Spirit and TRUTH. That’s what Jesus speaks to us, every week from the heart of the Mass, when he says,
“THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Here’s the lesson: Stevie Ray could play the blues with his heart and move the hearts of those around him. Our worship, played, said and sung, should be with all our hearts, whether it’s the clean, clear, crisp sweet tea of monastic worship in Holy Communion, or the steamy expresso of Koinonia, we need to come to the Lord with the intention of “leaving it all on the field,” whether we’re leading or attending. Allow our emotions, intellect, will, bodies to be totally engulfed in the Lord we’re worshipping. To fall into the rhythm and meter of holy worship. To be caught up in the moment and transformed...floating from glory to glory.
In short, we need to move and be moved. All for the Audience of One. Loving God with everything we have, and our neighbors as ourselves. We can do both with hearts of worship. And God’s law--His standard, and His prophets--the conduits of His Truths hang on this commitment.
And it’s a “zero sum” game. Either we’re in, or we’re out. The Word speaks to that.
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
Funny how we can get a lesson in worship from a guy like Stevie Ray Vaughn. He ran on one temperature when he played Texas blues: HOT. And that was just for the joy of the music, as I honestly think he would have played if he never made a nickel for it.
But as God’s people, we’re the keepers of the Word and Sacrament and the stewards of eternal life, but it seems we’re...well...not hot. And we forget that God says what he’ll do with us if we’re tepid. And, as the Scripture above shows us, we’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.
But we can choose something different. We can get God’s fire in Pentecost. There for us, if we want it.
That’s the thing about God. We can seek and find. And He can light our fire. Turn us on. Get us fired up. Rock our tepid worlds and bring His heat.
And we can worship him...with fire. On Sunday morning in the mass. Sunday night in Koinonia. And every day, walking with Him
I hope Stevie Ray met the Lord before his untimely death. And I hope we meet Him supernaturally, every day, in every place. But...especially in worship.
Posted on July 18, 2014
by Fr. Chip Harper filed under