Singing Maundy Thursday

After the meal, they sang a psalm and went out of the city to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26, The Voice).

What had just happened? The Passover meal is one of the holiest moments of the Jewish year. It is a time to remember how blessed God’s people have been. Even during the darkest days, God was present and active. God delivers His people.

But during the meal, this special meal, Jesus was being all cryptic with His, “So I’m gonna die soon” talk. And then Judas—a friend, companion, partner in the journey—leaves; apparently to go betray Jesus.

Holiness, gratitude, confusion, betrayal.

And they all sang a song.

_________________________

For the first Sunday in weeks, all the families involved in the accident were present at church. More than that, the people who witnessed the accident and stopped to help were able to attend. Also, the first responders were invited to attend this special worship assembly.

It was a church that had two worship services. The family whose child died was unable to attend both the second service. It was too emotional; too painful. For the church as a whole, it was difficult to process the death of a young child. It was difficult to understand how this could happen. But there was also a sense of gratitude for how the community came together to lend love and support to one another.

It was a holy moment.

Holiness, gratitude, confusion, questioning.

And they all sang a song: “You give and take away; My heart will choose to say, ‘Lord, blessed by Your name.’”

_________________________

The power of music.

Joy. Sorrow. Confusion. Holiness. Irreverence.

There is music for every mood.

Jesus was about to give His life for all people. He was about to be betrayed, arrested, beaten, denied, deserted, crucified, buried, and resurrected.

And He sang a song.

The most important event in the history of the world was about to take place.

But not until after the singing of a hymn.

When Worship Become Exercise

I started doing something new about two months ago.

I turned my worship into exercise.

The denomination I grew up in has done a great job with the intellectual aspect of worship. I once heard someone say that we have beat “decently and in order” to death. We have been afraid to go too far in worship for fear of doing something wrong, so we have studied, analyzed, and logic-ked our way into doing all the right things and avoiding all the wrong ones.

And I appreciate that.

But I think somewhere along the way we missed the point.

I appreciate our journey because worship is more than just experiencing an emotion. Worship is more than being made to feel good. Worship is more than manipulating someone’s experience to make them feel as if something magical has happened.

But we have missed the point that worship does involve more than just what we know about it. Worship is about so much more than making sure we are “doing it right.”

My worship journey has been blessed by worship experiences within my denomination but with different ethnic groups. There is a freedom found in worship when joining with people who do not look like me.

My worship journey has been blessed by leaving the walls of my own denomination and worshipping with brothers and sisters in many different groups: Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Episcopalian, and people that aren’t part of a denomination—only Christians joining to worship.

My worship journey most recently has been blessed by worshipping with a group of people who have nothing; at least, nothing by this world’s standards. And when you have nothing, you give everything you have when worshipping with all your heart.

So my journey took me to a small campground in a town called Leuders, TX; a weekend spiritual retreat of sorts. Much of the weekend is spent singing (for my C of C friends, I must let you know it is singing that includes instruments). I like to think of myself as somewhat intelligent. I know for certain that I am incredibly emotional. So worship for me is both a cognitive and emotional experience.

But something happened on this weekend retreat. I needed to add something. I did not feel that with my mind or with my emotion I could express fully my appreciation, love, joy, or worship.

So I added exercise. Worship aerobics, if you will.

When we were singing, I found myself tapping my foot. I started stomping, instead. I found myself raising one hand about to eye level. I started raising both as high as I could. I was rocking back and forth a little bit to the beat. I started standing on the tips of my toes and stretching as the singing grew louder.

It was exhausting.

It was awesome.

And I have kept doing it.

Because:

Worship is more than knowing the right things to do.

Worship is more than experiencing an emotion.

Worship is more than just moving to the beat.

Worship is all of that. And it is so much more. When I worship, I am trying to express my love to God. I am trying to express my thanks for all that He has done in my life. I am trying to express the joy I feel.

So worship God. With all your…

Mind.

Heart.

Soul.

Body.

And exercise when you worship.