It may not come as a surprise to some, but I do like to listen out for new songs of worship. Sometimes they are a barometer to what God might be doing in the church at any one time. Of course God also brings older songs or hymns to the front, but of late there have been a number of songs of growing importance to the church today. One such example is the song based on the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:22-27, It’s writers, from the Bethel Church (USA), sensed when they wrote it this year that it was something special and this was way before Lockdown. Tim Hughes version, the UK Blessing (2.6 millions views and rising) bringing 80+ churches together to sing it, has even gained some coverage from the Media (slow as always) and an award from the Prime Minister himself. There are plenty of other versions from around the world of the same song, God wants us to be the ambassadors of his blessing in a world which is in so much distress.
But songs have always been part of the faith. In a time of suffering, the Israelite people taken away into exile from their homeland by the Bablyonlan Empire found themselves reflecting on music in times of need.
How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? Psalm 137.1–4
How could they sing when they were struggling, grieving for all that they had lost, when they felt so isolated from all that had meant so much to them? But again and again the psalms reminds us that even in the toughest of storms it’s worship which can lift our hearts and give us hope. Worship – that’s giving praise to someone who is worth it. This week we learned a new song (well, newish, 2018), if you want to listen to it there is a clip at the bottom of this page, and I believe it’s another song for our time that God is blessing us with. It’s called Is He Worthy? It’s sung in a responsive way (the response is in the brackets)
Do you feel the world is broken (We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen (We do)
But do you know that all the dark
Won’t stop the light from getting through (We do)
Do you wish that you could see it all made new (We do)
How beautifully this expresses where we are today. How our hearts long for change in this darkness? How even the most difficult circumstances are not lost to God; he didn’t cause it, but he can and will work within it. We can expect with certainty that all things will be put right one day … we just wish it would come sooner.
Is all creation groaning (It is)
Is a new creation coming (It is)
Is the glory of the Lord
To be the light within our midst (It is)
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this (It is)
These words are echoing those of Romans 8.23. 23, ‘Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.’ We know that this world isn’t how it should be, how it was made to be. The very spirit of God within Christians is yearning for it all to be made new again when Jesus comes and ushers in a new creation and it’s our faith that is a first fruit of that coming harvest. Looking to a world where there will be no more pain, illness death or sadness (Revelation 21.4). But who is able to do all this? Who is worthy? Who is worth our worship? Is there anyone who can finally, once and for all sort all this out? The classic question at Alpha always is ‘why doesn’t God do something about the suffering in our world’? He has …
Is anyone worthy, Is anyone whole
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this? He is.
This is all the language of Revelation 5. It may seem difficult to understand but the bottom line is this. There is someone who is worthy, who is able to finally resolve the turmoil of this world. He began the job as he lived an spotless life in a broken world, he died, rose again and then went to back in to his space (heaven) until it will be time for him to return again. Who is worthy? I think you’ve probably got there before me. There is only one who is worthy – it’s Jesus. Let the words of this song give you hope this day as the spirit groans inwardly for the day he returns ushering in the new creation in his wake.
Is He worthy? Is He worthy? Of all blessing and honour and glory? Is He worthy of this?