So I’ve been thinking about worship as a communal act. In scripture we are told that true worship involves loosing the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, to feed the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless (Isaiah 58). All of those things are done in community. But in our churches we are so focused on worship as singing that it has come to be an individual act. Yes singing to God is a form of worship, but perhaps we go to far when we make the worship time just about us personally connecting to God.
What got me thinking about this was what happened at church this past Sunday. There was the regular worship song selections led by the band and pretty much only by the band since the powerpoint was off the whole morning. We had a great sermon about the life Christ has called us to, but what stood out was what occurred after the regular church service ended. After most people had left, the band started jamming and ended up playing a great rendition of Sweet Home Alabama. It was obvious that the people in the band were enjoying themselves as were those of us just standing around. We were clapping and dancing and cheering them on. There was an energy in the room as we all experienced something that we all really enjoyed. We were a community at that moment – participating in a mutual experience and enjoying it for what it was.
I’ve felt that same energy a few other times before. Strangely enough it has been among groups of strangers. I felt it at the Bristol Renaissance Faire when at the close of the day the crowds gatherer into the drum circle and dance to the beat of the drums. It is a wild, tribal, pagany gathering – buts it’s alive and full of energy as we dance as one entity full of the joie de vivre. Similarly I’ve felt that same energy in a crowd of 5000 at the National Youthworkers Convention as caught up in singing with the David Crowder Band the joy overflowed into dancing.
Some may say it’s a mob mentality – a large group of people being swept up into some communal mind. It happens at concerts all the time. But I think there is something deeper there as people are moved to express the energy and joy that is welling up inside of them alongside others. It is community experiencing joy together and having no choice but to let it loose. Too often we fear what others think instead of encouraging them to give into the joy that God fills us with. To me that is worship. To share joy with others. Be that through energetic displays of passion or through helping those who need help. Something big and wondrous can happen when we join others in worship – when it moves past just us and involves all of God’s children.
Labels: Reflections, Worship