Arthur O. Roberts
Reprinted with permission of the author.
This Document is on the Quaker Writings Home Page.
Silence in Worship Q. Why is there a time of silence in our worship? A. Silence lets us listen to the Lord, together. We center our thoughts on Christ and open our wills to his direction. Q. What if nothing spiritual reaches me? A. Try these disciplines: 1) pray beforehand, 2) get your body ready--it is God's temple, 3) let your mind reverence God, 4) submit to the Spirit's voice, whatever the means. Q. What if a song or a testimony seems out of order? A. First, make sure you haven't missed God's message. Then center down again. Be patient. Everything doesn't depend on you. Your brothers and sisters are here, and, best of all, Christ in the midst. Q. Silence is difficult, what if I get sleepy or my thoughts wander? A. Acknowledge your limitations prayerfully, then read Scripture or a hymn. Don't spoil communion for others. Q. How do I know whether or when to speak? A. It isn't easy to discern true from false leadings. Faith offers the timid a nudge and the not-so-timid a restraint. Ask trusted friends to verify your leadings. In any case be joyful and not in bondage to your fears. Q. How can silent worship be most fruitful? A. When you both hear and obey Christ's voice.
In our meetings worship is participatory. God uses different people and different modes to convey His message. Although pastors may offer public leadership they are not priests. Christ is our chief priest, and through work and worship each Christian bears Christ's truth to others. Some persons are called to special ministry, but all are called to general ministry and in open worship may voice particular concerns. Such prophetic ministry edifies the congregation (see I Corinthians 14:3). Should you be a message-bearer sometimes? These questions may prepare you to be.
1) Is Sunday worship a prayer concern during the week? 2) Do you pray for Spirit-led worship and ministry? 3) Do you enter worship reverently and expectantly? 4) Do you receive what God says through others? 5) Are you willing to be a message-bearer? 6) Will you bear the weight of a concern for weeks or months until God's opportune time? Or let your ministry arise quickly at a meeting gathered in the Lord's power? 7) Will you speak as distinctly, concisely, fervently, and compassionately as possible, trusting God for results? 8) Are you willing to apply any message to yourself first? 9) Are you willing to bear God's message privately as well as in public?
Music in the Church
Music used in worship includes Psalms (some of them millenia old), hymns (some centuries old), and contemporary spiritual songs. Individuals and groups add their vocal and instrumental talents to congregational singing. The hymnbook edifies us through the combination of thoughtful lyrics and melodious music. Whether it be prearranged or spontaneous, Friends want musical ministry to be Spirit-led as well as artistic. Here are some guidelines for musical ministry.
1) Music is one of several modes of worship. Balance its ministry to you with Bible reading and exposition, silent and vocal prayer, exhortation, prophetic speaking, and testimony. 2) Through music we celebrate God's creation, His covenant, and our salvation. Let such celebration take priority over aesthetics or entertainment. 3) True artistry enhances the message, subordinates the messenger, and glorifies the Creator. 4) Show gratitude for authors and composers as well as for performers. 5) Let music reinforce but not manipulate emotions. 6) All cultures can praise God through music; be enriched by variations of form and style. Don't be culture-bound. 7) Take care not to use choruses to avoid truth. Sometimes silence rather than sound facilitates a difficult commitment to moral and spiritual insight.