Daily Dose, Aug. 11

  In our church, we are blessed to have four vibrant Sunday worship services in both traditional and contemporary styles. I often tell people that one of the many things I love about serving at Alpharetta Methodist is that it’s a music-loving church. Folks enjoy many different styles in worship including classical, gospel, hymns, modern worship songs, bluegrass, Irish music -- you name it! During the 90s there was much discussion in the American church about styles of worship music. There was lots of debate and fixation on labels such as “traditional” and “contemporary.” Of course, those labels meant different things in every congregation. Unfortunately, some of this discussion lead to disunity within churches. Thankfully, I think the church has moved past the “worship wars” of the 90s, for the most part. Years ago, in the midst of these “worship wars,” I heard a wise pastor speak at a worship conference. He said, “Just because I like chocolate ice cream and you like strawberry ice cream doesn’t mean I have to run down strawberry. It’s all ice cream, and it’s all good!” It might seem a bit trite to analogize the music that we prefer and hold near and dear to our hearts to ice cream. But I have always remembered that statement, and it has served as a reminder that people connect to God in all different ways and I should not criticize others’ taste just because it’s not my preferred style. I love the story in John chapter 4 where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well. During the course of their conversation, Jesus asks her about her husband. She dodges the question, and Jesus reveals that he knows she has had five husbands and is not married to the man she currently lives with. Once Jesus delves into her personal business, she quickly changes the subject. (I always find that humorous; I would probably do the same thing!) She then asks Jesus about the big “worship war” of her day -- whether it was okay to worship on the mountain, where the Samaritans worshiped, or in Jerusalem, as the Jews demanded. This divide between Samaritans and Jews had far more cultural and ethnic implications than our discussions of musical style. Jesus replied, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) I truly believe that God is not concerned with which musical style we prefer, only that we open our hearts to Him and worship in “spirit and in truth.” I invite you to all our worship services, where you can taste ice cream of every different flavor. It’s all ice cream, and it’s all good! See ya Sunday -- Stephanie Newton, Director of Contemporary Worship