Worshipping with Hamilton
My wife Megan and I watched Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical that blew away the box office and made cultural waves, now available on Disney+ in these strange times. We’d heard positive reviews from friends who’d gone to see it in person, read articles about it, saw the memes and other ways it had filtered into the cultural zeitgeist, and now we finally got to watch it ourselves in the convenience of our home. What did we think? Well…we worshiped.
Now, you have to understand what I mean by worshipping. Typically, as Christians, we often think of worship as happening on Sundays in a building (or on YouTube, as it were). But that’s too constrained an idea of worship. Worship is a fundamental part of what we do as human beings and, in fact, we do it all the time. When you see that gorgeous sunset and admire the beauty of it, you are worshipping. When that song comes on the radio and moves you to tears, you are worshipping. It’s not only the sublime that engenders worship though. When a group roars at a touchdown, there is worship. When a person sacrificially donates to a political campaign, there is worship. If you’re not seeing the common thread to these things, here it is simply: worship is what you give your heart to. It is the reverence, adoration, respect, and praise we give to dozens of different things, dozens of times a day.
Now, that doesn’t mean those things don’t deserve that worship. Certainly, that sunset really was beautiful, and the adoration you feel when you see it is real. But that sunset only looks the way it does because of Who made it. Beauty, power, grace don’t exist apart from their Creator. So all that deserves praise does so because of how God has liberally distributed his gifts among creation and mankind. In other words, worship rightly given goes through the sunset, the song, the person of power, the hope given, to the Giver of all.
And indeed, Hamilton exhibits this too. The craft of the writing, the depth of musicality, the skill of the actors, the power of the story, all deserve praise. It’s no wonder it’s made the impact on wider culture that it has, it’s truly an impressive work. Emotionally, it wrecked Megan and I, leaving us in tears at the end. It ends as a story of redemption, grace, and power in humility. But if I were to stop short there, to give praise to Hamilton in itself, I would be making an idol of it. After all, the redemption, grace, and power in humility that grabbed our hearts were echoes of the Gospel. If my heart were to be captured by Hamilton, and not find its way through Hamilton to the God who is grace and beauty incarnate, it would be to imagine a painting with no painter.
But I am still left wondering, how often is my heart captured by the painting and not the painter?
This weekend, we’ll walk through the story of Exodus to help us think about our own time and our own hearts. Whether you join in person or online, I hope you’ll explore this story and what it means for your heart’s joy with me.