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Friday, January 1, 2016

Recovery of the reverence and solemnity in our Christian worship: My personal reflections


Recently, I received several letters from our dear young sisters, who told me about their struggles in their spiritual life in the midst of the modern, materialistic church settings. Their struggles are real, for although their soul longs to abide in heaven, their environment is too shallow and fleshly. Where can they go to obtain solid spiritual milk? Where can they learn the true sense of reverence and awe in Christian worship?

Here is an excerpt of my letter to one of our sisters;

"Now let me share with you something which I perceived; I think, a part of your struggles and my struggles are derived from superficial Christian cultures around us today. You have been bombarded with lots of shallow, pop-culture-like messages, phrases, images, music which often excite our stimulation and emotions but does not give us lasting impacts or repose upon our soul.
 
 
 
A church that can't worship must be entertained;
and people who can't lead a church to worship must provide entertainment.
 -A.W. Tozer

Where can we sense His holy presence?
O Lord, save us from these confusions and chaos.

Because of this phenomenon, which often makes us unstable in our Christian life, I've made a resolution to start seeking the bare basics. I am striving to gaze upon the core part. I threw out the superficial stuffs, messages, images, books, music into the garbage and started on the journey to find the naked, authentic truth which is revealed in the Gospel. As a result, I became like an oddity among friends, family and relatives but I believe firmly that this is the way which He wants me to proceed. I believe that He wants you and me to go deeper and to seek the solid path. So, my dear sister, shall we go together, hand in hand?"

The Lord is in His holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence before Him,
Amen.
 
Living in the Greek orthodox country as an evangelical Christian, I often find some differences and similarities between these two streams. Though I don't think it is biblical to pray to Mary/saints or to prostrate in front of icons, I observe that they retain solemnity and reverence in their worship more than our modern evangelical churches. Now, I am going to introduce you two hymn videos. One is sung by four Russian monks and the other is Psalmody sung by Serbian sisters. I want you to focus on the spirit and attitude of these worshippers. I think we can learn something from their reverent heart attitude toward God. What do you think? Please feel free to share with me.

 
 
 

 
Psalm 136 Praise the LORD in Serb
 
 
pictures from here

8 comments:

  1. Orthodox worshippers(including famous singer like Divna Ljubojevic) generally seem not to prefer to stand out themselves. And in many case,they don't use instruments.

    And even when they sing short lylics repeated,they do not let us feel poor of spirituality.It amazed me.

    Surely,they have beautiful,traditional melodies.But I think that there is more reason that their praise has rich spirituality. Calm,quiet,not decorated spirit,alone in the presense of God.

    Sanae

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    1. Dear Sanae, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yes, I agree with your observation that there must be a reason behind their spirituality and calmness. Though I am not in favor of the organizational ecumenical movement,I believe that there is something we can learn from other branches of Christianity.

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  2. Kinuko, this is so true. So many Christians in the West don't have fear of God. By trying to become culturally relevant so many lost some of the worship aspects. I remember entering Orthodox church and feeling that reverence.

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    1. Oh,Irina, I really wanted to know your opinion regarding this theme, for you are a firm evangelical believer from Russian orthodox background!I was relieved to know from your comment that I am not the only one who feels this way.Here is a Russian hymn (from the Sermon of Mount)which I want to share with you.

      The Beautitudes in Russian
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D1bzmGPlyw

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    2. Dear my readers,

      Regarding this topic, I recently received a thoughtful email from a 17-year-old sister Kegan. I will quote it here with her permission;

      <I too have noticed this superficial, emotional Christianity (I have called it "emotionalism" and plan to do an article on it some day). I think you are very right about the effects of it! It is sad, and I think many Christians in such cultures like mine (where emotionalism is prevalent) are hungering and starving spiritually for something more than what they feel. I too hunger. I am comforted by Matthew 5:6—

      "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."

      I think this hunger is because we were made for God. There is a hole in our hearts that only God can fill. So, we search desperately for something to fill that hole, that void, that emptiness within us.

      But we often miss the fact that only when we reach for God can we feel true peace and satisfaction. Because there is much cost in following Him, we often try easier roads (like sex, drugs, entertainment, etc.). But those easier roads don't fill us up.

      <I would certainly like to take your hand on this journey! I am excited about what God may have for us ahead! And we can lean on each other in hard times, as fellowship was meant to be. I believe that I have been really desperate for fellowship most of all. True fellowship. Like what I have with you.

      Too many people are worried about "saving face". About not looking weak or lesser somehow. But we need to put that all behind us, because God made us to need each other. We are all broken and there's no escaping that. So, let us be broken together, leaning on one another!

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  4. I have never attended service like rock concert,nor belonged to mega church.To be a christian in Japan is so rare,people do not talk about God and faith in their daily life commonly.
    It maybe hard to find specific christian culture here.

    I knew struggle of serious believers who have to face highly modern christian culture in christian coutries so recently.Sometimes I had imagined that living in christian countries must be helpful for faithful life.But it maybe not so plain. Sisters,I respect you those who hope to obey God seriously even under unsupportive surroundings.

    May reverence and solemnity be recovered in our churches.May we ask God truly,not to entertain ourselves,but to reflect Him.May our praise be rich in spirituality and touch people who starve to God.

    Sanae









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    1. Dear Sanae, big amen! to every single line of yours. As you said, the struggles of believers in western countries might be even greater than those who live in "pagan" nations.Let us cheer our fellow sisters who strive to enter the narrow gate!! with love, Kinuko

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