Sibling Revelry: A Parable about Worship
Once upon a time, not so long ago, some brothers and sisters threw a party in honor of their father. When it came time for the party, they arrived with two gifts.
The much older siblings brought a beautiful antique made of rare woods, exquisitely carved, featuring a delicate veneer and inlay of copper and brass. It had survived many years in good shape, giving the older siblings a deep sense of satisfaction that their gift was a real treasure. They just knew their father would like it.
The much younger siblings arrived, bringing their gift with joy. They were so pleased with their big manila-paper art project, a bold crayon drawing of two stick figures. The tall stick figure in the picture was obviously the father, whose beard they had drawn like a scraggly “V.” He held the hand of a smaller stick figure, obviously one of the much younger siblings. He had a “thought cloud” over his head that said, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!” The much younger siblings were so proud of their creation. They just knew their father would like it.
When the much older siblings saw the much younger siblings' gift, they were annoyed. They criticized it saying, “That's not an appropriate gift. It's on cheap paper. It's so simple and crude. And it just says the same thing over and over and over again. How boring. We don't like it.”
These comments hurt the much younger siblings' feelings. So they defended themselves. They said, “We're tired of your antiques. All you ever bring is old stuff. It's outdated. No one makes it anymore. You never bring anything new; it's just old, old, old. It's boring. And we don't like it.”
The much older siblings and the much younger siblings said hurtful things to each other for awhile, and eventually they separated and celebrated on their own.
They were unaware that their father watched this behavior. He felt sad that his older children did not set a good example by encouraging their much younger siblings and appreciating their exuberant joy and love for their father. It also made him sad that his younger children did not honor and respect their much older siblings and try to learn important things from them. He was sad that they focused more on their gifts and preferences than on him. It became clear that he was no longer the focus of the celebration, so he quietly slipped out.
Sadly, the much older siblings and much younger siblings didn't even notice that their father was gone. And as they continued their fragmented festivity, deep down they all sensed something was wrong with this party. Something was missing. They just couldn't figure out what.
Larry Haron (MA[BS], 1979) has served as a music and worship pastor in a variety of contexts. He writes, “My conclusion about the worship wars is that it's not about the style. It's about the heart. Singing a new song according to the psalmist's admonition isn't about copyright dates. It's about the fresh realization that ‘God is so amazing I'm compelled to sing whatever lyrics come to mind, reflecting my deep appreciation of and for His greatness.’”