I had a kind of revelation last night. We had our midweek service at church. We were privileged to have people from the local Messianic congregation leading worship, and their Rabbi gave the message. It was fantastic. We were invited to join their dancers to learn some of the steps, and my son and I participated. Even more than being able to dance myself, I enjoyed seeing my son praising God with his body. Watching him dance gives me incredible joy!
Anyway, back to the point of this story. As we were worshiping, I realized that it wasn’t just “nice.” It was truly good. By “good,” I mean in the sense that God meant it was good when he created the world. I can imagine that this is what God wants for us, to see us both honoring Him and feeling our own pleasure. What struck me is that in some ways, we’ve become so limited in our practice of praise.
Every church tradition has things that draw me closer to the Living and Real God. I like our church, I usually enjoy at least part of the worship (I admit there are songs that I could take or leave, and ones I actively dislike). But I miss aspects of other worship styles. Over my 20+ years as a Christian, I have attended or been a member of many different kinds of churches. Each one has something that speaks to me.
The few times I’ve attended Catholic Mass, I have been awed by the architecture, the candles, the formality. It reminds me that God is royalty, meant to be honored and glorified in His temple.
I love the raw enthusiasm at Charismatic services. People are unashamed to move their bodies, raise their hands, shout praises. That excitement reminds me of my children, and how we are to become like them before our God.
I appreciate how Pentecostals are so open to the Holy Spirit. God is incredibly powerful, and He wants to share that with us!
The uniquely Jewish flavor and the rich history of the Messianics reminds me that we must never, ever forget where we came from. It’s very important to be aware of our heritage, to understand how God has and continues to work in and through the Jewish people.
Our services are very contemporary, with newer praise songs and a band. I like to sing old hymns in new settings, a perfect blend of the poetry I love and the music I enjoy. I think we’ve done a good job of helping people who want to go to church but have been hurt in the past. We care for their emotional needs. This is important, because it strips away the layers that might otherwise cover up genuine faith.
Some of the churches I’ve attended have had a more liturgical style, including elements such as traditional hymns and corporate prayers. This speaks to the idea that we can honor God collectively, as well as individually, through disciplined practices. Although this is my favorite style, I know that I would not be content in it forever.
All of that had me thinking about the ways in which we, the Church worldwide, are as much the Body of Christ as any individual congregation. Sometimes, because we’ve decided who’s in and who’s out, or which way to worship is best, we stop acting like the Body. We become mouths that refuse to listen to the eyes and ears, or hands that fail to connect to the heart. But we need all of the parts of the Body! And we need to honor each part for what it brings.
Today, I’m making it known that I want the whole thing–I want beauty and majesty, enthusiasm, openness, history, tradition, and modernity. I desire it all! I hope, over time, to continue to experience and appreciate the different ways we worship and honor God. My prayer for you is that you are able to do the same. Go, visit a church that differs from what you know. Find a new way to feel the presence of God.