Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Repetitive Worship Shapes Our Hearts and Minds

When "The Lego Movie" came out, Linda and I watched it. The morning after I awoke humming, "Everything is AWESOME!!!" That little song repeats those words over and over... and over. The constant repetition worked its wonders on me.

That is the power of repetition.

Be careful of what you repeat over and over again, because it will get inside you, and become you. (In my college philosophy classes my teaching method is all about getting students to memorize via repetition the correct answers over and over and over again.)

I occasionally hear Westernized linear-thinking Christians mock the repetitive worship found in a Pentecostal church like mine. But the ancient Hebrews were tribal, and tribal worship is repetitive. Repetition is a powerful learning tool, helping God's truths descend from our Western minds into our Hebrew hearts.

N.T. Wright supports repetitive worship. He writes: 

"[S]ometimes, in some traditions at least, the things we sing in church are deliberately repetitive. We use them quite differently: as a way of meditation, of stopping on one point and mulling it over, of allowing something which is very deep and important to make more of an impact on us than if we just said or sung it once and passed on.
Quite different traditions find this helpful: the Taizé movement in France, for instance, uses some haunting brief songs or chants; but you find the same thing in many branches of the modern charismatic movement, where repetition is an essential part of worship.
True, some people find these tedious, and want to get back to old-fashioned hymns as quickly as possible. This may be partly a matter of personality. But it may also be that such people are unwilling to allow the truth of which the poem speaks to get quite so close to them.
Repetition can touch, deep down inside us, parts that other, ‘safer’ kinds of hymn cannot reach, or do not very often."
- N.T. Wright, The Early Christian Letters for Everyone, p. 139

Repetitive worship is not "mindless," but mind-shaping.

Repeat  the truths of God, and be transformed.