“Worship should be disturbing.”
I sat in the front pew with the computer on my lap. Our praise band was invited to a neighboring church to share in worship yesterday morning, and I was the power point girl.
I stared at the speaker, longing for her to elaborate on her statement.
“I have a friend who believes worship should never be the same way twice. He says it should be disturbing. So…we are here to disturb you this morning. My friend also says that worship should be so dangerous that we should have to wear crash helmets and seat belts in the pews!”
I laughed, along with the rest of the congregation, at her word picture. But at the same time, my heart acknowledged the sad fact that too many worship services are without passion…without danger. Nothing to make the heart beat rapidly, nothing to make the breath catch.
But as the band began their worship, as the music began to play, I thanked the Lord that this was not one of those times. As long as there is music like this to lead me into worship, my heart will be lifted on high every time.
I raised my hand and closed my eyes; carried away by the words of the song. Unfortunately, that meant I forgot to forward the slide for the lyrics momentarily, but I quickly recovered.
When was the last time you were carried away in worship like that? If it has been a while, maybe it is time for you to be…disturbed.
Our God is the God of creativity, of awesome wonders and amazing mysteries. Yet, so many times we turn our worship into an exercise of obligation; a series of steps to be carried out precisely. And if something is missing in this predictable order of things, there is outcry and anger. If someone suggests we try something new, something inspired; eyebrows are raised and whispers begin. There is talk of heresy, of profaning the sanctuary, or simply disrespect.
Mark Buchanan, in his book Your God is too Safe has this to say about such things: “This is a bitter irony. That a faith based on staggering mysteries—the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Cross and Resurrection, the imparting of the Spirit—should have become shorn of mystery, so plodding and prosaic, so mundane and managerial is a bitter irony. It’s an irony that Jesus’ famous statement to Nicodemus, you must be born again, has in our hands been turned into a slogan and a formula. Out of Jesus’ mouth, in Nicodemus’s ear, that statement proclaimed a staggering mystery. It was the ultimate anitformula.”
Buchanan states that “We fear imagination, believing it somehow undermines the purity of truth.” But he then goes on to say that “…maybe imagination is the missing link between having a doctrine and living it.”
I am saddened to say that I have witnessed my fair share of this kind of fear recently. My sweet husband is coming up on his two year anniversary of being baptized into the Body of Christ. He is still a baby Christian by many counts. But there is one area of his faith that he could teach a lot of folks about. A lot of so-called mature Christians. And that is passion. His God is not a safe God. He is a God capable of mighty and amazing things. A God to be feared and awed by.
Our church has been in a state of conflict for some time now. At the center of the conflict is the Contemporary Worship service in which my husband leads the praise band. I have watched elders in our church harden their hearts and cling to man-made rules and rituals; ignoring the prompting of the Spirit in this instance.
But we are listening to God, and not to man. Against this turmoil, we have plodded on, faithful to the call. God’s Will will prevail.
In the mean time, I’m going to invest in a good crash helmet. I’m hanging on for the ride…