Friday, December 7, 2012

Finding Our Way to Animated Worship

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit
 and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things
 so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:1-12 NIV)

I had just finished my message on pursuing the heart of joy—God’s heart that is full of joy over His creation.  I challenged the students with basically the same message as my devotion yesterday.  There was energy in the room and I was excited to sing songs of praise with them. The worship band played and they sang with more enthusiasm.  I was encouraged.  

As the evening came to a close, to have a little fun, the band played “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  To my shock, the room literally came alive.  The voices were loud and the bodies animated, more so than at any other time during the night or the semester.  Students had their arms around each other and dancing and laughing as they sang.  My point during the message was our joy in the Lord should be reflected in how we live and how we worship.  Now I was seeing it demonstrated—in singing a song about a fictional reindeer.  I hope the students recognized the irony of that.

How is it we can be so animated at a sporting event—cheering, raising our hands in celebration—or so lively singing our favorite songs, but when we are gathered to worship the Lord of the Universe, who is abounding in love and forgives all of our sins, we are often as stiff and lifeless as a memorial statue?  

I honestly don’t have a definitive answer.  Perhaps it is how we were raised—religion is private and somber, or Baptists and Methodists just don’t do that.  Perhaps it’s just more comfortable because everyone gets excited at ballgames.  I don’t know, but even on the face of it, I think we must admit that something is amiss.  Should not the Lord of Creation, the Savior of our souls, generate more excitement within our hearts than anything else?

Today, join me in meditating on this.  Think about what holds you back from expressing the joy of the Lord when you have no problem showing excitement about other things.  Let us figure out how, like David, we can praise the Lord with everything we have within us.

© Jim Musser 2012

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