The Musings 19 by Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla
Read: Isaiah 6:1-9
Marthoma Church and Chris Tomlin. What is the relationship between Marthoma Church and Chris Tomlin. There is unique relationship between Christ Tomlin and our Church. With praise and worship now becoming an integral part of worship now in almost all the Marthoma church's in this part of the continent, it is Chris Tomlin who has who has now become very synonymous with our worship and the songs used for worship. On any given Sunday, I believe there may be a number of choirs or praise and worship team who would be singing this Christian songwriter and artiste songs. Chris Tomlin is in the news again this new year. Last week he created a record of sorts. His new music album "Burning Lights" is now on the top of Billboard 200 and this is only the fourth time in history that a Christian music album has entered the chart at No. 1 position. More than 72,000 units of Burning Lights have been sold last week itself and with the huge success of this music album, Chris Tomlin is being acclaimed by top national media like The New York Times, USA Today and Billboard among many others. Last year was also very memorable for Chris Tomlin because he had received his first Grammy Award for the Best Christian or Gospel Album "And If our God Is For Us..". With his new album Burning Lights becoming a huge hit, Chris Tomlin is launching his nationwide Burning Lights Tour, beginning next month. But many of the youngsters do not know that some of the songs that they sing during worship, or youth meetings are songs written by Chris Tomlin. Some of the famous Chris Tomlin songs that we sing and some which I personally like are the following. 1. We fall down:. A meaningful song that teaches us that all that we have is a gift of God and hence all we have received needs to be laid down in his feet..2. Give us Clean Hands:. This is another wonderful song, which conveys the message of that only when God transforms us, we become holy and pure. 3. Unchanging [ Great is your Faithfulness]: The faithfulness of God is what the song stresses and the words of the songs are the promises that God gives to each one of us. 4. Your Grace is Enough: This is also a beautiful song which emphasizes that it is God's grace that help us to stand victoriously and live faithful Christian lives. 5. How Great is Our God: I think this is the best song. A wonderful song that reminds us that God is always worth of praise for who He is and for all wonderful work of His hands. There are also other songs like Indescribable, Holy is the Lord, Better is One Day, Wonderful Cross and Unfailing love to name some of the other songs that is huge hit among the youngsters today. What is so amazing about Chris Tomlin and his songs is that the words of the songs are very simple, but has very deep and profound meaning in each of the lines of the song which creates a sense of awe, hope and unknowingly pulls us into the mood of worship as we sing those songs. One of the drawbacks that sometimes happens when we come to worship as community of believers in the Marthoma church's is that sometimes the clergy who leads the worship does not prepare the congregation to an experience of worship. It is very common to find in most of the parishes where, the achen just come out of the altar at the appointed time and then he announces " We will begin our worship by singing ..........". This is it. The congregation stands and just sings the songs sometimes as casual, as the casual talk that they did with the person sitting next to them in the pews before the beginning of the worship. It is in such a context that song like holy is the Lord, or give us clean hand or how great is our God slowly bring us to the awareness, that we are in the presence of God and that worship is something that we should take seriously. Worship is worship only when it in truth and in submission to the power of the Holy Spirit. I think this is the change that we need to incorporate in our life; Our attitude and our perception of worship.
It is in Isaiah 6 that we find some of the important concepts of what worship should be like. Here from V: 1-9, Isaiah sees a vision of worship. According to the new covenant that God made with his people, God's temple in heaven is the centre of worship [ Revelation 11: 1, 19]. It is in this context and meaning that altar or madhbaha in the Marthoma church's have significance. Here in the passage we find that Isaiah encounters God and he hears his voice of calling and commission. One of the first objective when we gather for worship is to consciously come to a feeling or experience that " I need to encounter God through worship". It is this objective that helps us to adore God just as the seraphs were adoring God in heavenly places by saying, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of glory" [ Iss 6: 3]. But when we encounter God through worship what happens to us is that, God convicts us of our sins. In the vision of Isaiah we find the prophet proclaiming that " Woe to me, I am ruined, For I am a man of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" [ Iss 6: 5]. Conviction of who I am and the changes and the transformation that is needed in our life is what happens when we encounter God, as we adore Him for what He is. One of the changes that we all need to do as we worship is the change and transformation that needs to happen. For many of the believers worship is just another emotional experience, an experience where you feel some emotional happiness as you sing some of praise and worship songs. But Isaiah teaches us that if we are not convicted of our sin through worship, and if change and transformation does not take place in the life of the believer, then worship loses its true meaning and significance. In the following verse we also see that Isaiah is cleansed of his sin; when the seraph touches his mouth with a tong of live coal stating "Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for" [Is 6: 7]. Once Isaiah has been forgiven of his sin, we find Isaiah being commissioned by God to go to his people. I think along with ones conviction of ones sin, what is needed through our corporate worship is also the assurance of the forgiveness of ones sins and then going out into the world as commissioned Christians to live as faithful Christians and also to lead a life of witness in the areas that God set us in the week days. It is these aspects that we need to incorporate as we come for worship rather than converting our worship into just another ritual, or a monotonous recitation of prayers of adoration, confession and commission. Until we are transformed and are ready to be commissioned by God to be a witness in our daily life and living, whatever be the forms of worship, liturgical or free worship, worship degenerates to just another ritual or just some emotional experience for a limited time and in a particular space. Let us move to a more true and comprehensive understanding of worship even as we sing songs of Chris Tomlin during worship.