Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Lingering Question

I've been participating in this conversation for most of my life: What does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth? What does that look like? Does it involve emotions---a "feeling"---at all? When I sing songs like "I Choose to Worship" and "Here I Am to Worship" and "You're Worthy of My Praise," I declare my determination to worship. But do I really understand what I'm singing?

One of my church's current worship directors has been challenging us to think more deeply about worship, what we do when we worship, and why we do it. I lead worship most weeks for our weekly women's Bible study. The subject of worship---and getting it right in God's eyes---is so interesting to me, I perk up when I spot someone else asking similar questions.

My friend Joy's blog has been asking good questions about worship. I sent her blog out in an email to others I thought would be interested in her comments, and I received some interesting replies. I thought I'd share them.

From Garment of Praise (the text of my email):
BE Amazed-The Act of Worship
It amazes me how many people can stand in the presence of God. The dramatic encounters I’ve had with God over the past year have had me flat on my face in awe and worship. It is then that I feel restored. It is then that I am whole. It is then that I realize who I am, and I am reminded of what I was created for---for utter, complete, facedown worship.

I hesitate to use the word “worship.” I believe that it is an overused, misused, misunderstood “Christianise” word that has come to mean something that it is not. So…I decide to find out what the word “worship” actually means anyway.

1. Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object
regarded as sacred.
2. To feel an adoring reverence or regard for (Taken from my
favorite site,
www.dictionary.com)

Why then are so many churches have so many issues when it comes to worship? It’s like they’re either too over the top with external stimuli to create an atmosphere of worship that we begin to worship the worship, or they are dead, and dry. What’s the difference?

I know it’s not the music. I’ve been at a “peak” of worship with both drums, electric guitar, lights, loud music, and dancing people as well as with just a simple guitar over a bonfire or a CD in my car. So what is it that makes the difference?

It has nothing to do with the leaders. It has nothing to do with the singer. It has nothing to do with God. It has everything to do with the condition of my heart.

I admit, I struggle when it comes to entering into a spirit of worship. I am a sound man’s daughter. I know when the mix is bad, and I notice it ALL THE TIME. I’m always thinking critically of the mix…”oh the vocals need to be higher, the base needs to be higher, way too high on the lead vocal, they should mike the drums this week because the drummer is WEAK”…..yadda yadda.

I am also easily distracted with the worship team themselves, and the slides that the words are projected on. “Oh man, they misspelled a word, oh my goodness, they changed the lyrics from “lift my hands and spin around” to “lift my hands and sing aloud” wow, that background is weird.”

I’m distracted by my family. Eek, my little sister is taking off her jacket, she is bored, she is trying to talk to me…..so many things try to fight for my attention. Oh look Mrs. Smith is at church today. Oh great, Pastor Snooze is preaching (okay, that is a total joke, I love all my Pastors!), it’s communion Sunday. Anything and everything that CAN distract me, will. I’m ADD to begin with, and when it comes to church, my thoughts are like a chipmunk on crack.

A lot of my worship is PEER dependent (and older dependent). If someone else stands, I stand. If someone else claps, I clap. If someone else raises their hands, I raise mine. I don’t want to be alone. I am under the control of mankind, instead of the spirit of God.

SINCE WHEN HAS WORSHIP BEEN ABOUT ME?

Why do I CARE what people think? Why do I force myself to become easily distracted, and vulnerable to the attack of the devil?

Mr. R is a man in our church whom I have the uttermost respect, and love for. He is a 9-11 Pentagon survivor. He was leading my Youth Group, and when 9-11 happened, after being blown from his chair, and witnessing the death of his co-workers he CAME to youth group, and he lead us in prayer for our nation. Tears streaming down his face, but he came. That was huge to a little Jr. Higher named Joy. It was then that I knew whatever came out of his mouth, I would listen to. Years later he was talking with me about worship. He said,

“You know, sometimes when the music, and the leaders, and the distractions come to be too much, I go to the corner of the room, turn my back on them, and close my eyes, then I am able to worship.”

Worship. It’s about so much more than me. It’s not about WHO IS WITH ME, it’s not about WHO LEADS THE SONGS, it’s not about the MIX or the SOUND, it’s ALL ABOUT GIVING MY SAVIOR ADORING REVERENCE. It’s about pure and whole surrender to my creator. It is my effort to express to Him the depth of my love, and the appreciation of the sacrifice He has paid for me.

If it be dancing. If it be shouting. If it be falling facedown, or kneeling, I want that. I want to be moved by God. It’s sad when people cannot worship in their own churches, but most of the time it is not the fault of the church, but the fault of the believer.

I want that adoring reverence.

When was the last time you fell facedown?

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