An Open Letter to the Other Side of the Aisle: a meditation on John 4

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“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:19-22)

Dear Hymn-Singer on the Other Side of the Aisle,

I like modern worship. I like modern worship because it repeats. I know you think it repeats too much, but the repetition helps me remember. It’s not that I don’t like your hymns, I just have trouble understanding them. There are a lot of words and some, well, I’m not quite sure I get them. To me, repeating the words over and over is like meditating on scripture—staying with one verse or passage for awhile—repeating the words until it sinks deep in my spirit—deep in my spirit, where Deep speaks to deep. I like to mull the words over, and over, and over again, in my mind. It helps me remember. When I am weak or uncertain or filled with fear, it helps me remember. To me, modern worship is SPIRIT.

So if I stop singing when they start playing the hymns, please don’t be offended. I’m trying. I’m listening and learning. And one day, when you’ve repeating the words “It is well” or “Great is Thy faithfulness” long enough, I’ll join you in song and remember and believe.

I hope you’ll understand.

Your Brother or Sister in Christ, the Modern Worshiper on the Other Side of the Aisle


Dear Modern Worshipers on the Other Side of the Aisle,

I like hymns. I like hymns because they tell stories. I know you think there are too many words and nothing repeats so it makes them harder to remember. But I need those stories, especially the story of the Gospel of Christ, to help me remember. To me, telling these stories is like reading the stories of scripture—stories that tell of God’s great faithfulness throughout many generations, stories that show how God rescues his people and brings them out of slavery, stories that reveal how he takes the weakest of his children and makes them into great people who serve you despite their faults. When I am weak or uncertain or filled with fear, it helps me remember. To me, hymns are TRUTH.

So if I stop singing when they start playing those modern songs, please don’t be offended. I’m trying. I’m listening and learning. And one day, when you’ve repeating the words “Be lifted up” or “I am yours” long enough, I’ll join you in song and remember and believe.

I hope you’ll understand.

Your Brother or Sister in Christ, the Hymn-Singer on the Other Side of the Aisle

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

Blessings of ARTistry, CREATivity & BEaUty, Jody

______________________

God's Creative Gift by Jody ThomaeJody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You, a devotional book with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within and to serve as a resource for creative Christians, artists, musicians and worshippers. She has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, coordinating artistic involvement in church services and regional worship events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts. She performs, choreographs, preaches, leads worship, teaches, coordinates and leads workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer. JodyThomaeCDcoverart_FA_printShe has also recently released a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.
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