From Markus Grae-Hauck, Music Director
Recently in a worship planning session, we were discussing the distinction between performance and worship. According to the dictionary, to perform means “to do something in front of an audience, often in order to entertain”; it is usually considered to be a way of presenting something in a way that draws attention to the person. To worship, on the other hand, is defined as “to give worth to something” (where it is understood that this something is not oneself); a worshipful rendition of a song, for example, means that the music is offered to honor someone or something else, for a larger purpose.
This dichotomy seems useful, but it leads to some problems. Let’s say during the Time for All Ages we are playing characters in a story (and – blasphemy compounded! – actually enjoying it). Who draws the line between a skit that serves the greater good and one that feeds the actors’ egos? If the congregation (the audience) laughs or applauds, does that automatically take away from the sacred mission? And if somebody who contributed to the story (a writer, director, or actor) feels proud of what they created, does that lessen the spiritual purity of their work?
Think of some of the great artists of our time: Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Audra McDonald, Meryl Streep. They are great performers with incredible presence, yet at the same time they can become so completely one with their work that their persona practically disappears. The performance becomes a holy ritual.
PS- Here is an article on a related topic: https://sashadichter.com/2019/04/16/mariano-rivera-on-luck-vs-skill/