Rich Celebration: Christ-centered worship (not broken cisterns of cold-hearted religion)
Weddings and funerals may take place under the same roof, but there is a very different mood between the two. They are different because they are responding to a different script. The mood at a funeral is one way because the people present are responding to a script describing life lost. At a wedding, the mood is another way because the attendees are responding to a script celebrating the beginning of new life as two separate worlds become one.
The mood of a church matters, from the worship service, to small groups and classes, all the way down into the leadership and planning meetings. For this reason, the ideal mood of Rich Celebration is held up as one of our core values.
The mood at Red Tree is one of “ rich celebration,” not because we are feigning niceness or immune to the depression, sadness, anger or fear that naturally comes when we face the reality of all the troubles of this present life. Rather, a celebratory mood is the prominent mood at Red Tree because we constantly remind ourselves that the prominent script we live in response to is the script of the good news of God’s grace and all the accompanying promises of this gospel. For this reason, our celebration is rich, not cheap. It’s deep, not shallow or disingenuous.
Red Tree’s Vision For Worship and Music:
Our prayer and hope is that our worship services (once they begin!) will be inflected with rich celebration. Because God is holy and to be revered, we worship him in reverence and awe, not flippancy. However, this same God who is all holy is at the same time all loving. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday), securing all of God’s promises for those who trust him. When we gather, we’re actually gathering to participate in the drama of God’s salvation.
A Big Picture View of our Worship
Our worship will be celebratory, yet reverent. Our hope is for you to experience worship services marked by a “joyful gravity.”
Our worship will be rooted, incorporating liturgy and practices from the ancient church.
Our worship will be real, with weekly liturgy crafted by the pastor and contextualized to the uniqueness of our contemporary cultural context.
Our worship will be renewing, with preaching that is expository (unfolding scriptural passages rather than focused on a particular topic); liturgy that is participatory (everyone participates rather than the worshippers seeing themselves as an audience at a concert); and sacraments are observed regularly (we dine at the Lord’s Table weekly to find nourishment for our souls as God intended). All week long we’re bombarded by lies and disappointments that cause us to run spiritually dry. Our gathered service of worship is a time of spiritual renewal as God encounters us through biblical preaching and encourages us through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
Our worship services will be dramatic, technically speaking, because every worship service is a drama, portraying the reality of the gospel story: We come as unworthy sinners; God calls us into his presence; we are swept off our feet by his gracious gospel promises; reminded that we are new creations in Christ, transformed into people who long to hear our savior speak and, upon hearing his Word, are filled with gratitude and awe-filled praise.
What will the order of service look like when Red Tree launches public worship services?
Our order of service (liturgy) will reflect the drama of the biblical story of the gospel, not losing sight of either the holiness or the grace of God in Christ. Here is a peek:
With astonishment, we respond to the Lord’s call to us, commanding us to enter into his presence to worship him.
Amazed by this invitation, everyone joins together to celebrate in song, from the person with the raspiest voice to the most highly skilled musicians in our midst. In other words, we all put our gifts on the table to celebrate the King who calls us his own possession.
We’re reminded of the holy purity of God when our ears hear his word from the scriptures and we humble ourselves to honestly tell him that we have done the unthinkable – we have sinned against him. We do this corporately, as his bride, with one voice. This is certainly a moment with gravitas.
We are amazed once again to find that he does not throw us out. Instead, he assures us that we are cleansed by the blood of his Son.
Our response is to celebrate yet again in song, prayers and offerings, using all our talents, treasures and words to express to God how immense is his worth.
God extends our dramatic conversation by speaking to us through the preaching of his word. A carefully studied passage from the bible is proclaimed to everyone present, whether believing or unbelieving. God, through his word, does the work only he can do to transform our minds and renew our hearts. He saves some people and revitalizes others. He convicts and cuts into hearts and he heals and binds up our wounded places. All this through his word.
The rich celebration is not over. God, after speaking to us, sets a meal (a meal meant for a wedding, not a funeral). This meal is none other than the Lord’s Supper. He invites us to partake in order to be strengthened by his grace for the coming six days of life in this world, until we gather again next Sunday.
Since the meal is so extravagantly rich, we can’t help but to raise our voices and use our gifts and instruments again in awe and joy filled song.
God has the last word to ensure we remember why we have reason to continue, even after we leave worship, in a celebratory mood. His last word is a word of blessing to us, his people.
Our desire for a “world music” approach involves singing in English with a musical vocabulary drawing on instruments and styles from around the world. We also draw from the centuries old musical traditions within the Christian Church; in this way, we hope to represent the Church in space and time. Our music anticipates the day when people of every nation, tribe, and language are gathered in complete reconciliation. Lyrically, we are committed to a rich gospel-centric theology in our worship. The liturgical framework of our services gives us the freedom to explore different styles of music within each section, from the instrumental reflective moments to the congregational call to worship, confession, and communion. The collection of psalms, hymns and original songs that we lift up to the Lord in worship are the fruit of our endeavors toward a multi-cultural and reformed liturgy.
At Red Tree, we have a high view of the arts as a good gift from God; the arts help us explore what it means to be human, and in our liturgy, theologically and musically rich songs and instrumental meditations are modes of praise, thanksgiving, and spiritual nourishment.