a worship deeply rooted & reaching heavenward
i remember the first time anyone offered me pot. i was hanging out with friends one night in junior high, and i vividly remember considering the decision in my head:
if my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, i probably shouldn't smoke weed, since i do want to honor God with my body and all.
that was seriously my train of thought. it wasn't fear of my parents or the cops or health class or "this is your brain" PSAs that convinced me to "just say no." i knew enough of the bible at fourteen to apply it to my life's context and remember that God was calling me to live another way.
i didn't grow up in a raise-your-hands-type church. our services were designed more to nurture an intellect than stir a spirit, and i don't mean that as a criticism. different faith communities meet different needs, and in many ways it met mine (though i longed to worship anywhere else with kids my own age.)
my hymn-singing church (and family, certainly) helped to root my faith in something real, and i'm grateful--even though growing up i never once set an alarm for a sunday, hoping against hope that my parents would forget to wake us and we could skip.
they never did. not even once.
at summer camp and youth group, i fell more in love with Jesus through the practice of praise and the kind of music that makes you dance or close your eyes or lift your hands. worship songs (and cute christian boys with guitars, natch) kept me coming to college fellowship groups when i could have been a dozen other places. my first job after graduation was at a church with a wonderful music ministry. as an adult, i was finally experiencing God at church in the way my heart longed for growing up.
then we moved away.
this morning, like most summer sundays, our family tucked in behind the back row of campers. scripture was read and prayers prayed. a visiting band led worship, and with voices and hands, our community lifted high the name of Christ.
my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior.
it is a powerful thing to see the Spirit move, to watch teens and twenty-somethings forget themselves--for even a moment--and incline their hearts toward the throne of grace.
i miss that kind of corporate praise. our local church has great preaching, beautiful liturgy, and none of the music that evokes that worshipful response in the core of who i am.
we have a tendency to be dismissive of "emotional" worship experiences, don't we?
it's not about a feeling! you can't live on the mountain top!
and that's true, to an extent. worship is about praising God for who he is; it's not about style or preference or feelings or me at all.
the essence of faith is not emotion but neither is it a well-crafted message or the nuances of ancient greek. God calls us to love him with all that we are: heart, soul, mind, and strength. worship is an active response to God in and through every aspect of our lives: domestic chores, scholarly pursuits, recreation, service, prayer, everything.
we misunderstand worship when we speak of it exclusively as music, but it is music certainly, insomuch as worship is any position of a heart oriented toward the Lord.
my heart longs to give the intellectual side of my faith a rest and step into the presence of God, not just alone but alongside sisters and brothers. to remember that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. to experience that foretaste of the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven.
i want to lift up my hands in the sanctuary again.
praising God with not-kids my own age (and my kids' ages) would be kinda great, too.