Order, Exploring a Worship Essential, Part One

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ORDER—Exploring a Worship Essential

The Role of the Artist Is to Bring Order Out of Chaos. 


Genesis 1:1-2 NKJV

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV

Let all things be done decently and in order.

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” Stephen Sondheim


The Drama Within


The Brooding Dove
Before there was order, there was chaos.  All the elements of creation swirled in a storm of confusion. The universe was “without form and void” and this chaos was amplified in its effect by absolute darkness “on the face of the deep.” Above this hopeless morass, a higher power was brooding, a living thing, like a dove looking for a place to land. The Holy Spirit of God was contemplating a solution, an order for this chaos. He began to move over and into the chaos bringing truth from the Father and shaping beauty as the incarnation of the truth—the seas and inland waterways, the dryland blooming in beauty, the skies above the earth, the space above the skies still expanding to this day, and the animals to patrol the lands, the waterways, and the sheltering skies. Finally, as the culmination of creation bringing order out of chaos, the Lord fashioned man in His own image and the woman from the man and it was done.  Order had defeated chaos and God saw that what He had made was not only good, “it was very good.”[1]

As people made in the image of God, there is a deep desire within each of us for order.  Even the most improvisational and “free” among us, really desire a routine, a plan, a program, an order for our lives.  Chaos wears us out in short order, confuses us in its repeated invasions, and depresses us in its random terrorism.  We long for order, for predictability, for dependable cause-and-effect processes, and for a future we can see at least dimly in our headlights. We want people around us who contribute to this order and not those who seem to deal in chaos, in lies instead of truth, deception instead of decency, and treachery rather than fidelity.

As the Covenantal People of God, Christ-followers are those who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to rise above the chaos of modern/postmodern life and find the order of God in their daily living.  Before we knew the Lord, our lives resembled the chaos of the pre-creation world, chaos upon chaos multiplied by still more chaos.  When Jesus came into our hearts bringing His Kingdom of Peace, the Holy Spirit installed order into our lives.  Still, like a brooding Dove, the Spirit of God hovers over us day and night, whispering truth to us from the Father’s heart through His Word. He reveals the beauty of Jesus to our minds as we engage with the Word and through worship in Spirit and Truth.  In this order we find peace, strength, productivity, purpose, and joy.

Even in this covenantal community there are chaotic assaults on all of us.  Contemporary society strains at its borders with chaos. Our godless, hostile cultures demean and degrade the whole idea of a loving, all-powerful, Creator God who loves us so much He sent His Son into this chaos to rescue us and equip us for a meaningful life.  We need to help each other resist the chaos and keep the order.  The Brooding Dove hovers over each of us—and resides within us!—to be our paraclete—our Helper[2], holding tight to the order of God and defeating the repeated assaults of chaotic ideas and impulses.

How does He do this?  One of the ways is through gifted creators, artists who can compose the songs we need, write the books we need, teach the classes we need, preach the sermons we need, pastor the churches we need, and even make up and tell the stories we need to understand the difference between the truth and the lies, the order and the chaos.  This is the priestly ministry of the artists among us. Like the Old Covenant order of priests, artists help us see the “difference between the holy and the profane.”[3]  For this reason the triumvirate of guiding principles of worship is completed with “Order.”  The three essentials of the worship arts are these:

  1. Truth,
  2. Beauty, and
  3. Order.

I see a reflection of the Blessed, Holy Trinity here.

  1. Truth is sourced in God the Father and His Holy WORD.
  2. Beauty is seen in Jesus, God’s Son, the incarnation and image of the Truth of God, The WORD made flesh and dwelling among us.
  3. Order is the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit, shaping us in the image of Jesus and empowering us to represent the Truth and Beauty of God in this world.

We are called and equipped to bring this order out of this chaos. Let us take a moment to explore the powerful sights and sounds of the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the church. Among others, I am sure, I see these essentials:

  • The Well-ordered Mind
  • The Well-ordered Heart
  • Artistic Orders of Composition and Presentation.

The Well-ordered Mind

Faith and Reason
The Scriptures provide much instruction on how to fill our minds with truth and/or beauty[4] and order our thinking aright.[5] Two of these admonitions will suffice just now.

Isaiah 1:18 NIV
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

There is no dichotomy here, no choice of either reason or faith. The well-ordered mind of the believer will use both reason and faith to discover the order of God.  Many facets of Kingdom living are obvious in our observation.  They simply make sense. An example of this is the Law of Sowing and Reaping, a fundamental aspect of life on earth.  It is obviously true: we reap what we sow. We need not believe this law on faith for reason makes it clear to us.  There so many wonderful truths of God that we can obey and in which we can take great confidence because they are obviously true.  Reason dictates our confidence and order follows our obedience.

Other truths exist outside the realm of reason; these we accept by faith.  For example: no one can do the math on the Trinity. It is not a mathematical truth, so we believe this on faith.  No one knows exactly what eternity will be like for us, we consider our departure from this life or the prospect of Jesus’ return to this earth with joy, a joy based in faith, not in reason.  Our friend, the prophet Isaiah reminds that God’s ways are higher than our ways and are beyond our ability to discover or define.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If you explore Morning Rite #1 in the Book of Common Prayer, you will find this passage is a prayerful daily confession.  So, the order we seek in our daily living begins with a mind skillful in both faith and reason.

The Well-ordered Heart

Passion and Compassion
The heart of the Believer must also house two complimentary seats of emotional strength.  We are told to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Jesus said this was the greatest of all the commandments. Our passion for the Lord Himself, for His House, for His Family, for His truth, and for His mission must propel us into life each morning and sing us to sleep each night.

At the same time as we “set our hearts on things above,”[6] we must also love the people we meet each day.  We must never attempt to be passionate toward God and callous toward people.  Paul said the mark of the True Church would be our love for each other.  People outside the church will see the ties than bind us together as brothers and sisters and they will know that we are Believers.[7]  We must also love those who do not love us.  The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, which I like to think of as the Constitution of the Kingdom of God, commands us to love and pray for our enemies, never returning evil for evil.  Paul instructs us to overcome evil with good. We are called to a well-ordered life of both passion for God and compassion for people.  These contrasting emotions order our lives “aright.”[8]

Let us be open to the creative work of the Holy Spirit as He broods over our otherwise chaotic lives. He is the one who can build in us a well-ordered mind and a peaceful, productive heart.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
© 2022 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

Continue on to Part Two with the link below.

[1] Gen 1:31 NKJV

[2] John 14:16, 26; 15:26

[3] Ezek 44:23 “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. NKJV

[4] I use the “truth and/or beauty” language because not all truth is beautiful and everything that is beautiful isn’t true.

[5] Ps 90:12

[6] Col 3:1-2 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. NKJV

[7] John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NKJV

[8] Psalm 50:23

Order, Exploring a Worship Essential, Part One

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