Watching God set off explosions of creativity around our country is so exciting. Like fireworks, I think He enjoys our “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” as we marvel at His amazing workmanship. It is one of His hallmarks of our time. He is bringing people together to create fresh expressions of worship, communication and artistry and He is being creative about it. Being able to step into communion with Him through being creative is such an amazing thing! With Him creativity brings life.
Ironically, I have come to loathe the word “creatives.” It puts people with certain skills and abilities into a box. We are meant to understand by the use of this term that these are people especially passionate about creativity. Yes, I would say that is true of me, but my point is that we are all creative because we are made in the image of God. He is a creative God. In what we create, we have the opportunity to worship the Creator. Creativity might be expressed through strategic administration, or industry, or a new business venture, or skillful communication, or an ability to instruct or encourage, or…the list goes on. I will climb off my soap box and concede that there are, as we well know, people uniquely gifted in artistic skill. There are Oholiabs and Bezalels, Jubals and Levites who are called to lead the way. These are the ones who can instruct and release others into new expressions of creativity. These are the ones who can develop skill in others, because they are exceptionally skilled.
It struck me very recently that when Psalm 96 tells us to sing…a new song (v.1) this is a command. I have always seen this verse as one that gives us license to sing a spontaneous song and I have only seen it as that. However, when we sing a new song to the Lord, as Psalm 96 says, we enter into the same declaration of all creation in praising God and it’s good for us. It’s life giving. A new song either brings or reflects new creation. But not all of us are gifted in spontaneous song. I have had some musical training (if singing Gregorian chants count) regardless of which I am extremely glad that it is only God and I who hear my spontaneous songs of praise. They are sung most often when I am on my own in the car! My songs are childish and simple expressions. They are of no pleasure to any other listener because I am singing only for the pleasure of my Father. He doesn’t mind my childish attempts to glorify him and he listens to the cry of my heart. He and I usually end up having a laugh about it.
How many identify with this sense of willingness versus ineptitude in our expression of worship, I wonder? This is where we need to connect with those whom God has equipped and who are able lead us in a new song. When we join with them we become obedient to Psalm 96:1. This command to sing a new song has been with me throughout the preparation of the launch of a new and wonderful worship album that has come out of AOG Worship. This is a collaborative project. The beauty of collaboration is that it is counter-cultural to the celebrity culture we have all grown up with. There’s no competition. This isn’t about one person’s skill. This is the skill of many. This is about songs that powerfully carry their purpose, which is to connect people with God and God with people. They are skillfully inscribed, masterful, carefully created, and sensitively delivered.
When I first listened to the album I heard enough stylistic familiarity about the sound to keep me comfortable, but these songs are so much more than that. They come from the hearts of those whose lives are devoted to worshipping God. As I have come to know the songs more intimately I am astounded by their strength. These songs are well-crafted. They are immediately accessible to engage with and worship God through. They are not songs that are tied into style for an effective delivery. They are versatile and adaptable. I had the joy of being part of an acoustic set that tested this. It was a treat to be a part.
When my own instrument of worship reacted to the humidity of the room as it filled with people and flipped my E string completely out of tune – and then the rest – minutes before playing, I wasn’t convinced I had it quite right as we began playing. Tuning was an issue and like when singing my childish spontaneous songs I was reminded of our frailty. But the songs themselves brought liberty and I was still free to worship. Never let our frailty interfere with worship. It isn’t about us.
With One Voice
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