What contextualizes . . . worship more than anything else is its music. Music is the vehicle that communicates worship in the language of the people. Music is also the vehicle of our personal response to the story of God’s worship in history. We also proclaim God’s story in hymn and song, but nowhere in Scripture or in the history of the church have hymns and songs ever been held as a replacement for Word and Table (communion).
-Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 168.
This is a fascinating statement because I guess that most white, American, evangelicals think that music = worship. Not only is that not biblical, Webber points out, but it’s not historically accurate either. The reading/preaching/teaching of the Word and Holy Communion are vitally important.
However, he first identifies the importance of music (it’s commanded by God!), but mainly as a personal way to contextualize and communicate worship. I think this understanding could help with many of the worship wars. First, it’s not the equivalent of worship and secondly, it’s a highly subjective contextualization of worship. When we forget either of these two points, we are in trouble…