Rewind to the 1970s. Tom and I met, courted and married in a conservative, middle class Methodist Church, in the middle of the Bible Belt. Our youth pastor gave us tickets to a concert of a very popular Christian recording artist that we had enjoyed. First of all, the concert was at an arena downtown. We had to park several blocks away. On the way to the arena, we had to pass several unsavory bars and businesses. Okay, I'll admit it, Tom and I were about as naive as you can get, so when we saw very scantily clad young women standing in doorways posing provocatively, I'm pretty sure my mouth did fall open. By the time we arrived at the concert, judgmental us felt the need for some kind of cleansing. What we weren't prepared for was the music we enjoyed clothed in unabashed spirit-filled worship. When folks started dancing in the aisles, I didn't know if I was more scared of the activities happening inside or outside.
After several decades and several denominational choices, I'm so glad to finally be at a point to understand worship has lots of faces. That's really helpful with grown children when one celebrates in a conservative, fundamental church that somehow manages to be relaxed and energetic at the same time. Another one prefers ultra-liberal theology in a liturgical setting. For Tom and the kids, raising hands is only for the classroom, and clapping is done at the end of well-done performances. Not me so much. I think some of Mama's Baptist upbringing or having friends who worship exuberantly may have rubbed off on me, at least a little.
I've also learned worship is not reserved for sanctuaries only. Tom and I love to travel. Last year we reveled in the grandeur and majesty of the Rocky Mountains (that sounds canned, even to me). Standing on Pike's Peak, it was easy to share the inspiration of Katherine Lee Bates as she penned the lyrics to "America, the Beautiful". Lots of folks, from time to time, or routinely, seek the Creator in His creation. When we submerge ourselves in nature, mountains, oceans, sequoia forest, it fascinates me to watch the faces of others fade into worship amid the wonder of something greater than themselves.
Oh yeah, back to the Addams Family. What could be more inspiring that a group of 6th graders singing grace for lunch to the tune of the Addams Family? It was great! They started off a little weak, stumbling over words, then gained in confidence and gusto, and finished full of laughter and praise. Who would have thought: worship right there in the classroom! One more affirmation that worship has many faces: heads up towards heaven, heads bowed in humility, hands up, hands down. If each of us is uniquely and wonderfully wrought, doesn't it only make sense that our praise and worship would also be unique?
When has worship been most meaningful to you? What affects your worship?
1 The heavens tell about the glory of God.
The skies announce what his hands have made.
2 Each new day tells more of the story,
and each night reveals more and more about God’s power.
C. S. Lewis