Celebration is our fourth core value. Though we do not use this exact word in our vision statement it sums up the essence of two of our most important activities: worship and music. We believe that it is in worship and through music that we orient ourselves to Christ in order that we can cultivate mission, inclusion and community.
I realize that for many people the equating of "celebration" with "worship" seems a bit off. Many of us have grown up with worship that was somber, cerebral and to be perfectly honest, boring. In some ways this is part of our heritage. Worship was to be a holy encounter with the Holy God focused on the proclamation of the Word of God. Worship was filled with lots and lots to words with some music thrown in…and even the music was filled with lots and lots of words. Chances are "celebration" was not the word most of us would have used to describe what we were doing.
Scripture, especially the Psalms, offers us a very different look at worship and the place of music in it. Worship was to be a celebration of the might, holiness and faithfulness of God. Worship was a response to the mighty acts of God which had set a people free from bondage and saved them in difficult times. Worship was a response to the God who provided everything in creation.
Praise God with trumpet sound; Praise God with lute and harp!
Praise God with timbrel and dance; Praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with sounding cymbals; Praise God with loud clashing cymbals!
~ Psalm 150:3-5
"So David went and brought up the ark of God…to the city of David with rejoicing….and David danced before the Lord with all of his might." II Samuel 6:12-14 (selected)
This is the kind of worship that gives glory and honor to God. This is the kind of worship that makes celebration a reality. This is the kind of celebrative worship in which music is used to its fullest. This is the kind of celebrative worship to which First Presbyterian is returning thanks to our Worship Grant and the hard work of many of our members.
Over the past year the church has had a worship grant from Calvin College to be used in exploring not only the meaning and purpose of worship, but how the worship experience can be broadened to be more celebrative and inclusive. Through the inclusion of the arts, technology and movement worship has become richer and more alive.
The PCUSA Book of Order puts it this way: "Christian worship joyfully ascribes all praise, glory and honor to the Triune God. In worship the people of God acknowledge God present in the world and in their lives." (W-1.1001) "They (the people of God) bow before God, lift hands and voices in praise, sing, make music, and dance. Heart soul, strength, and mind, with one accord they join in the language, drama, and pageantry of worship." (W-1.2001)
We commit ourselves therefore to celebrate the love, grace, provision and holiness of God with all of our heart, soul, mind, body and strength through music and worship.