[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]Down here on earth Good Friday and Easter Sunday come around once a year. Up there in glory the Death and Resurrection of Jesus are celebrated perpetually by “more than ten million angels together with every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth and on the sea, singing: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain (and is now alive forevermore) to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’” (Rev 5:12)
Let’s maximise our sung worship with them! A disproportionate number of chapters in the Gospels are devoted to the events of His one Holy Week (30). The rest of the Christ’s 33 years on earth take up only 61 chapters.
‘Songs of Fellowship’ has at least five songs sourced in Revelation 5:12. The Topical Index of any song/hymn-book is rich in its range of songs on these themes. We are not short of musical options for our worship this weekend!
But don’t lapse into more of the same. With such a range, here is an opportunity to expand your repertoire. Explore some different Good Friday themes.
Jesus did not only suffer the physical torture of crucifixion. He suffered emotionally. He had such high Integrity that it must have hurt Him deeply when, in the series of rigged trials, His sense of Justice was trampled on. Human love was important to Jesus, so when His own disciples “forsook Him and fled”, He must have felt the rejection keenly. After all, these were the men into whom He had poured His life, and on whom He depended (humanly speaking) for world-evangelisation. He knew depths of disappointment we will never know. He must have struggled to muster up enough faith to go through with His Father’s Plan. How lonely He felt in the Garden, and on the Cross. Then the worst Loneliness of all hit Him where it mattered most: His own heavenly Father turned His back on Him. Such spiritual loneliness is the Essence of Hell. “How great the pain of searing loss ~ the Father turns His face away” (from “How deep the Father’s love for us” – Stuart Townend).
The deeper meanings of the Crucifixion lead us into rich Worship territory: Atonement, Propitiation, Redemption, Substitution, Example, Victory, Reconciliation. These have powerful spin-offs as we apply them to ourselves: “taking up our cross and following Jesus”, “dying to sin/self”, “sacrificial love”. Meditate on the Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross, and see how these address the range of human need: Forgiveness and Forgiving; Promise of Paradise; Family responsibilities; Separation from God; Physical Thirst/Suffering; Finishing your Life-goals; Death. No other season of the Year gives us such profound opportunities for teaching and preaching Biblical, Systematic and Practical Theology. Don’t miss the opportunity!
Saturday. An empty day. All we know is that Jesus accomplished spiritual victories in the invisible world, His enemies had the happiest day of their lives, while His followers plumbed the depths of despair. The worst day of their lives. There are not many worship songs and prayers born out of Easter Saturday.
That all changed on Easter Sunday. “Reversing up death’s tunnel, disturbing souls asleep, Jesus did what none had done: He rose up from the deep! He snatched His body from the tomb, He tore aside the stone, He called two angels to stand guard, and notify His own that He’s no longer in the Grave, He’s conquered death and sin; the devil’s had his big defeat, and cannot keep Him in.” (From “Stirrings in the Grave”).
Explore the Easter Themes of Hope, Joy, Victory, New Beginnings, Power, The Deity of Christ the Son of God, Freedom, Justification, Truth, Confidence, A Bright Future, Eternal Life. These topics leap from the pages of the Easter story and inflame our Worship of the Risen Christ. They revive our spirits and open the Door to a New Day. We are motivated to go through that Resurrection Door into a world still living in Violent Friday and Sad Saturday.
What opportunities for Evangelism, as through this weekend we proclaim “your debt is paid”, “your sins forgiven”, “Jesus died instead of you”. “Jesus is Alive!” “Alive! Alive! Alive for evermore! My Jesus is Alive”. Worship of Jesus “who died for our sins and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4) is powerfully evangelistic.
Easter worship tips
Who thought that Worship was boring? It’s our fault if we monotonise it. Here are a few tips for your Easter Weekend Worship:
1. Explore themes you have not seriously done before. Stretch your worship into new territory.
2. Look for meaningful lyrics that stir the heart and imagination to worship with new understanding.
3. As always, ensure the tune is Singable, matching the mood of the words, with good rhythm.
4. Write out your Prayers so that you avoid slipping into older, well-worn cliche-ruts.
5. Invest your Worship with Variety: Songs, Choruses, Hymns. Confession, Praise, Intercession. Scripture Readings. Drama (if you have the talent) or meaningful Video-clips. Communion. Sermon and Exposition of Easter Themes.
For a free selection of songs covering some of the above Themes, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org