Tumbling in the Sand
“The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” -Lamentations 3:25-26
“You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. “-Psalm 30:11-12
It seems to me that worship style comes up an awful lot as a point of argument in faith communities everywhere. Everything— the music, movement, the worship space arrangement, the people participating, the volume, the parts of the liturgy included, the way the pastor preaches, ad infinitum—gets included in these discussions that can turn from a congenial conversation into an all out fight.
Let me just say: these arguments and conversations are really good things. We need to talk about this stuff! We need to be concerned with how worship reflects ourselves, the community, and the whole body of Christ. We also need to be concerned with how worship around the table—around Communion—feeds us so that we can go out and serve in the world.
Inevitably, though, such conversations lead to disagreement and conflict. The reasons for this are many, but I think the primary reason is that we tend to think that there is one right way to do it and only one right way. Interestingly, that one right way tends to be our way…
But, I don’t think that there is one right way to worship. I think that worship is diverse and multi-faceted. Just like these two texts suggest: worship is everything from silence to dancing, from wailing to singing, from waiting to rejoicing. And we need that full spectrum that worship is. I think that when we try to narrow worship down to one right way, we miss the depth and beauty and struggle that worship actually is.
Yes, I said struggle.
You see, I think that worship is supposed to challenge us. It is supposed to take us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to wait quietly for God. It is supposed to lead us out of our safe spaces so that we may dance in the joy of God. It is supposed to call us out of our numbing habits so that we might be free to let our heart sing without ceasing. It is supposed to challenge us, to stretch us, so that we might grow in faith and be surprised at God and the way that God shows up. Because—as we’ve learned through the cross—God shows up where we least expect God to be.