25 February 2008

Sunday Worship

The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance. - C.S. Lewis

Early last week my friend/colleague, Stuart, rang me to ask if Jasheen and I would be willing to lead Mosaic in worship that upcoming Sunday (yesterday). Jasheen and I have been on Mosaic's worship team before, but as she, Gabrielle and Isabelle were all recovering from some sort of virus that's been circulating, I told Stuart that we could not commit to that since we had no idea what the week would look like as far as practice and preparation went.

I suggested an alternative style of worship (since there were no available musicians for the gathering). After sharing my thoughts, Stuart promptly asked if I would facilitate it. So I did.

With Easter approaching, and coinciding with the passage this week (Mark 16), I put together a playlist of worship songs with a resurrection theme. Instead of standing and singing together as we usually do, I provided an art station, a writing wall, and the freedom & encouragement to assume whatever physical position people might prefer when worshiping God.

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how it would go over. As the first song began to play, people slowly began moving about to different stations. One of the highlights of the set was the way it engaged the children in our community. One of our core values in our Sunday expression of worship is including the children in as much of the gathering as possible. Worship is fundamental aspect of our faith and practice, and I love including the children in a way that invites them into the experience.

Some of the artistic expressions and written words were deeply moving and profound (from children and adults alike). As people talked at their tables, I wasn't sure that they weren't just socially catching up with one another, but in today's team meeting and debrief, I was so blessed to hear the impact that it had on several of the people there.

For some, it was a refreshing detour from the conventional style of worship we're accustomed to. For others, it was a completely new and eye-opening experience. One young woman who has been attending Mosaic, but is still very much in a seeking/exploring posture, was at first frozen, unsure of what she was "supposed to be doing." As the worship time unfolded though, she was moved to tears by the words of some of the songs and gained an appreciation for worshiping God in a fresh, new way.
The experience led others to openly discuss worship at their tables and their paradigm(s) of worship were expanded.
Gabrielle blessed and entertained the community by both dancing and praying out-loud during an instrumental piece played during a time of verbal prayer and thanksgiving.

I really wasn't sure how the whole thing came off, but I was so encouraged to hear that it's an experience the community would like to incorporate periodically at Mosaic.

The whole purpose of the alternative worship set was not simply an alternative to not having available musicians, but it was to provide an opportunity for people to connect with God in a new way. I believe that God has designed each of us to connect with Him in unique ways. Some connect with Him outdoors, through natural revelation; others may experience Him best in silent solitude; still others may require a visceral experience, holding a cross or a Bible... or perhaps the smell of incense helps bring them into a posture of worship. Some may even express worship best through giving - a service offering, a word, or a monetary gift.

The important thing is that we take opportunities to experience God in different ways. Corporate singing is good, it may be the best way for some to connect with God, but as each of us are uniquely and wonderfully made, it stands to reason that there are multiple ways for us to encounter Him in worship.

I hope this entry will stimulate your hearts and minds, and encourage you to explore the different ways to worship our King!

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