Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:24 (NIV)
Friday afternoon. The church was having a special service and I had been asked to help with the worship music.
But I had misjudged my time horribly. What was normally an hour trip was taking more than two. The issue was not distance but traffic. I sat in stopped traffic on the Gandy bridge. Stressed and going nowhere.
Not only was I going to be too late for practice, but even making it in time for the start of service was highly doubtful. And how I hate being late. Especially when people are depending on me.
“Lord, it’s in your hands. I prepared. But here I am.”
It wasn’t always like this. No, not the part about me hating to be late. I have always been like that.
I’m talking about worship. Or at least worship as we now know it. The band or choir. The Lead musician. Sound systems. Power points above everyone’s head.
Each week can seem more like a mini concert than true worship.
It can be rough on those leading the music as well. Often so much heart, soul and work going into trying to “pull” people into opening their hearts and emotions to come into a presence or experience of God. Disappointment when feeling a flatness, a deadness to the service, or when it just seems forced.
No, it wasn’t always like this.
People didn’t always need the “trappings” or to be “pulled” into worship.
Years ago I saw this movie “China Cry” which is based on the true story of young woman’s experience during the rise of communist China in the 1950’s. I won’t tell you the story in case you decide to see it (which I highly recommend). But there is this one beautiful scene. She has been taken in by this group of Christians. They gather together, sitting in a circle in a hidden courtyard to worship. But they can’t sing or even raise their voices above a whisper for fear of being caught, for being a Christian often carried a high cost of loss or even death.
Yet this does not stop them. The leader of the group whispers the hymn they are going to sing, then as one they close their eyes and just sing…
But with no words. You see their mouths singing words that are not spoken. And on their faces the love and adoration they give God.
Without a sound their worship thunders.
Not many stories or movie scenes have touched me so.
Finally I made it to the service. Every bit late. And there was just three of us to lead the music. The young lady who would lead the singing, myself on guitar and another sister who sings.
But it was all okay. Being a Hispanic church we were on Latin time which means nothing had started. Didn’t even need the music I had pulled together. The young lady who was leading the singing had thankfully already put together a list of songs she would like.
The worship began. I played the guitar. And with eyes closed I worshiped. Didn’t worry about the congregation. Their worship is between them and God.
But as for me, even if I worship in silence, it would be loud and clear…
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
And who knows what may happen.