I've been doing a lot of thinking about how we respond to God in worship and how we connect to worship. If you ask people in the Christian circle what worship is, many times the immediate response is singing. I've had that same thought for many years. I find that I can connect to God very easily through music and singing but that's not what constitutes worship as a whole. Worship, as we experience it at FPC, involves fellowship, prayer, silence, scripture, a sermon, announcements, greeting visitors, giving offerings, sometimes a testimony or minute for mission and music. It's not just about the music.
But when we start talking worship, we talk about music. It's really the first connecting point for many people. Over the years the style of music that's being played in many churches has changed and brought many headaches, frustration and fear with it. We've experienced a little of what was deemed the "worship wars" here. Every so often we get to a point where I think maybe this time we've moved on only to be hit over the head with 2x4 by someone who's not done with the subject. As a worship leader for a more contemporary service, I've found myself trying to balance my desire to push the ideas of what worship is a little further with the need to keep the peace. Usually my peacemaker persona wins out.
Not this week, though. This week I gave a nudge. See, I think part of worship is about bringing ourselves to God, offering ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to move in and through us. We can sing a song like "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee." with our hands at our sides, mouthing the words, singing because some worship leader chose the song or we can connect with God through that opportunity. So this week I asked those in worship to open their arms wide and listen as I read the words...
"Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Here am I, all of me. Take my life; it's all for Thee."
There were uncomfortable smiles on faces, nervous laughter and silly giggles but yet for one moment we all began to connect to God. YES! I had chills racing up and down my body, as I gazed over this group of people with whom I come and worship every week standing with their arms open in worship saying "Here am I, take my life." And the sound of those voices as we sang that song (some still keeping their arms wide open) was so powerful.
Later that evening I joined a small group of others to worship God. Again there was music but then there was also prayer and silence, no lengthy talks or ton of announcements, just the rawness of individuals coming together, laying their lives and hearts before God. It was just as moving to sit in silence and listen for God as it was to sing my heart out earlier that morning.
How do we respond to God in worship? In many, many ways.