|Worship at Redeemer, artist Nicole Griffith, 3/5/17 (Photo by Sue Anderson)|
I have been part of worshiping communities ever since my birth into Jesus' kingdom.
I was part of two campus ministries as an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University. In addition to being discipled by excellent teachers, I was mentored in worship, as we often gathered together with acoustic instruments and sang praises to God. That was forty-seven years ago. Many of these songs are still singing inside me.
When I was a pastor at First Baptist Church of Joliet, Illinois, we had a Saturday evening coffee house that met for several years. It was in the basement of our beautiful, old church building. There, many young adults assembled, with excellent musicians and beautiful voices, to sing. For us, worship was more than singing. It involved our entire being. Our singular hearts formed a corporate arrow pointed into heaven, landing before the throne of God. I remember many of these songs. They are part of my worship DNA.
For eleven years I was a campus pastor at the Baptist Student Center at Michigan State University. The sanctuary of the building we met in was acoustically perfect for worship. Many times I would go into it alone and just sing songs to God. Our students were beautiful worshipers. We had put together a book of worship songs, always adding to it. I remember how, once a year, our experience of God culminated in gathering in the sanctuary, and singing through the 100+ songs we had in the book. With no commentary. Just... pure... worship. That lasted from evening into early morning of the following day. (And our guitarists, including me, had very sore fingers!)
On of the reasons Linda and I were drawn to what God was doing at Redeemer Church in Monroe was the beautiful worshiping hearts of the people there. This is my twenty-fifth year at Redeemer, and our worshiping community is still going strong. Yesterday morning's worship experience was no exception. God met us during worship. His presence was tangible and palpable, and we all knew it. I woke today singing one of the songs we did yesterday. I caught myself singing it, in my heart.
That is what worship does to me. It is accompanied by the Spirit of God, and becomes a powerful, transforming agent. Worship provides a lens on life, like the background music in a movie frames what is happening on the screen. I see things differently. I see people differently. I see my life differently.
I experience worship as life. Dallas Willard expresses it like this.
"We enter a life, not just times, of worship. The hymn of heaven will be a constant presence in our inner lives: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Revelation 5: 13).
Worship will become the constant undertone of our lives. It is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining restoration of our whole beings to God. Nothing can inform, guide, and sustain pervasive and radiant goodness in a person other than the true vision of God and the worship that spontaneously arises from it. Then the power of the indwelling Christ flows from us to others.
Remember, however, that we are not trying to worship. Worship is not another job we have to do." (Willard, The Great Omission, Kindle Locations 1883-1889)
|Photo by Sue Anderson (Redeemer, 3/5/17)|