Preface, Part B: personal leadership aspects, and prioritization of the vertical
Worship has for many years been a special area of calling for me. Its significance in my life may be seen in my literary and musical outputs, in my print and audio libraries, and in my experiences.
Starting in my teens at the Cedars Church in Wilmington, DE, and continuing with opportunities at Camp Manatawny, Harding University, and beyond, I was a worship leader. The most regular, significant worship leading opportunities came in three related venues:
- Cedars congregational assemblies, youth group devotionals, and retreats
- Sr. High II week hymn sings at Camp Manatawny, 1998-2001
- LIGHTS vocal band performances
Certainly not always, but often, I felt I was effective in those roles, bearing kingdom fruit.
For the last ten years, though, I have had only a few opportunities to lead others in worship. My own private worship veins have simultaneously been developing a severe case of sclerosis (which begs a chicken-egg question). Wondering some days whether I still have something to offer, I feel somewhat like a dying man trying to do something worthwhile, to set things straight before things change more drastically.
Please don’t mistake the import of the above paragraph for me as an individual: the words you just read were not at all easy to type. They have undergone no material change since I first typed them. In other words, I wish I could look back and moderate the words, realizing I had been dramatic in overstating the case, but I can’t do that honestly. The words above speak truth wrestled from my wincing soul. What I am attempting to do here is to process things deeply held and experienced . . . all the while realizing that I am not living as a devoted, worshipping being at this juncture.
In this blog series, I will revisit some concepts, some vocabulary, some texts, and some quotations and sayings, in order to refine my philosophy and practice—and in order to try once again to do something for the sake of God’s reign in human hearts, in spite of my own lack.
While worship is related to human life and to the horizontal connecting of humans one to another, it is the vertical expression of humble adoration and homage to the Lord that appears prioritized—both in scripture and in self-evident existential reality.
To the first point: Jesus said, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12, ISV).
Hebrews 13:15-16 appears to echo this prioritization.
And to the second point, a quotation:
Any explanation of why men worship should probably begin with the simple idea that they just do, that they are made to worship. It appears undeniably true that one of the hardest jobs which could be undertaken would be to find either on the contemporary scene or in the archeological records of antiquity any race or civilization devoid of worship. . . . This homage-paying has often been from those who deny that they do worship; but be their object of reverence God or gods, crocodiles or cows, man himself, money or science, all men, with but few exceptions, worship something. In his book Ascent to Zion, S. Arthur Devan says, “. . . Worship remains, because the impulse to worship is elemental and universal.”
– Andy T. Ritchie, Jr., “The Objectives of Worship,” from Thou Shalt Worship the Lord Thy God, © 1969 Firm Foundation
Next: philosophical and scholarly aspects of this current worship pursuit
 I struggled with the tense here. “Was”? “Have been”? “Once functioned as”? This type of question transcends the grammatical for me.
 Perhaps more responsibility for the last decade falls to me, i.e., I could have made a few more opportunities.