A community of celebration

Boldness, love, and joy are not to be thought of as purely private and interior experiences; they are to distinguish our public worship. The brief time we spend together on the Lord’s Day, far from being divorced from the rest of our life, is intended to bring it into sharp focus. Humbly (as sinners), yet boldly (as forgiven sinners), we press into God’s presence, responding to his loving initiative with an answering of our own, and not only worshiping him with musical instruments but articulating our joy in songs of praise. W.M. Clow was right to draw our attention to singing as a unique feature of Christian worship, and the reason for it:

‘The great faiths of the Buddhist and the Mohammedan give no place either to the need or the grace of reconciliation. The clearest proof of this is the simplest. It lies in the hymns of Christian worship. A Buddhist temple never resounds with a cry of praise. Mohammedan worshippers never sing. Their prayers are, at the highest, prayers of submission and of request. They seldom reach the gladder note of thanksgiving. They are never jubilant with the songs of the forgiven.’

By contrast, whenever Christian people come together it is impossible to stop them from singing. The Christian community is a community of celebration.

-John Stott in The Cross of Christ (2006), 251-252


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