I'll fill in more of my trip, along with photos probably tonight. But for now I'd like to talk about something.
Last night I went to the Calgary Stampede, which is apparently the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth". After watching the chuck-wagon races (great times which I'll write about soon), a massive stage show started up that could well have proven that title correct. 350 singers/dancers/performers, 250 musos, over $30k in pyrotechnics, and they did it ten nights straight.
And the performance was absolutely brilliant. The performances ranged from massive song and dance numbers through to those insane muscly acrobat guys, motorbike riders (who we unfortunately didn't see because it was raining), a comedian with bagpipes and a KISS tribute band. Somehow or another, it was all pulled together seamlessly and sounded fantastic.
But my mind was split the entire time. Half of it was in awe of the awesomeness of the sound and the performance. The other half was left wondering - what on earth is the point of this? Half the time the songs were celebrating the fact that they'd been doing these performances for 40 years, the other half they were celebrating the rodeo itself, or just celebrating nothing at all.
Which got me thinking about this whole idea of worship. It was a massive performance last night, and it's seriously difficult to think of what could have been added to make it better. Which leads one to wonder - what's left for God? Surely He deserves the best of the best. It disappointed me that such a fantastic performance could be worshiping nothing at best, and itself at worst.
One of the accusations often leveled at Hillsong is its massive expenditure on performance aspects. Yet, the opening ceremonies at their conferences were some of the few performances that could rival a massive stage performance like this - but they were God-glorifying and brought people into a time of worship.
I think too often we've been short-changing God. If the secular world can do something massive like that, then surely our God, our Creator, our Saviour deserves something much better! I look at the descriptions of worship in the Bible - thousands of singers, musos and dancers in the temple courts - the richest place in the world at the time, and all glorifying to God. I look at the massive cathedrals built to worship God in. I look at Bach's compositions - all written to glorify God.
Then when we come to church on Sunday, we play three chords.
Christians have long been on the forefront of new trends, using them to worship, but then wimps out when the secular world starts doing it better. Just look at theatre. Or a more recent example - cinema. The guy who create the first video camera wanted to sell the patent to his church, but they wimped out.
This didn't stop Christianity from doing stuff with it though. Most of the first movies in the world were created by the Australian Salvation Army and were Passion plays. Then in the 1910s the church realised that movies were being made my non-Christians too, and decided to declare the practise unfitting for Christians.
Now we're stuck with low-budget Christian flops while the rest of the world gets hundred million dollar blockbusters. Shouldn't God get the best?
All of this leads me to wonder about my own life. Am I giving God the best? As I do uni to become a teacher, am I planning on using that first and foremost for the glory of God or just as a job? As I practise the piano, am I playing first and foremost for the glory of God, or just because it sounds good? As I go on a trip around the world, am I travelling first and foremost for the glory of God, or because it's fun?
What are your gifts, and are you using them to glorify God?