“The lifestyle of waking up to God, to the work of God in the world and living that way—holds out hope that the love and justice of our hearts can come to mirror the love and justice of God’s heart”. [Labberton, 121]*
There it was…for the second time…uncontrollable…it just popped up.
There they were. I guess it had been forty-five or fifty years since I had felt them but they suddenly returned.
My hand popped up and the chills returned.
Is my heart being transformed? Pastor Labberton writes that the transformation of our hearts occurs through personal and public worship. Worship “recalibrates” how we live. Worship can “rewrite” what is in our hearts with a message different “from the one imprinted by our nurture and experience.”
I have been a church-goer for many years but I have had precious few experiences in what I would call a charismatic worship environment, where emotion can be expressed as part of the worship experience. Thoughtful and reverent would be the words I would use to describe most of my times in the house of the Lord. I have been moved several times due to my worship but I never really expressed what I was feeling, keeping my feelings to myself and if I did respond, I would wipe tears and suppress what was going on because all those around me were suppressing.
Then I joined the choir at my church and after a while, we hired a new choir director who wants to bring feeling into the musical worship experience. She described the music we sing so well: “Older hymns often sing about God; we want to sing to God.”
Her music selections are quite a departure from what we used to sing and I think something is happening to me.
My wife will tell you that I am a “closet” musician. I have had a keyboard for many years, an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, even a harmonica and a couple of tin whistles. At my core, I want to make music but I won’t let myself. I won’t cut loose and just try.
When I was in high-school, I experienced the greatest ebb of my “musical career” in band. I was a trumpet player who was good enough to be first chair in our small marching and concert band.
That is where the first chills came from. I recall when the notes all sounded “perfect;” the strangest sensation would happen to my body. The best way to describe it was chills running up and down my spine. It was the result of our instruments working together to create something beautiful. I knew it. I did not have to say it. I felt it.
I felt like a musician…at the core of my being, I knew I loved making beautiful music.
Then came the long hiatus. I did not pursue music in college. My college band sent me a letter trying to recruit me but I tossed it in the garbage.
Now things are happening to me. We are singing choir music that is touching my heart, reaching down into the very core of who I am, who I want to be…dragging the closet musician out of the closet. I have never really seen myself as a singer but now I find myself wanting to sing to The Lord.
Some selections that our director has picked just touch me so much and I can’t get them out of my mind. At our Christmas program we sang a song which was so beautiful that my hand lifted toward God as we sang it. It was not a plan. In fact, in our church it is hard to do this because it is so rare for anyone to lift their hands in praise. I did not think about my environment…my hand just went up. It had to. I lost control. This past Sunday, we were singing the very beautiful praise song “Good, Good Father.” I love the song so much that I was singing it in my mind for days before Sunday worship service. When our choir got to the lyrics “Because you are perfect in all of your ways…You are perfect in all of your ways…You are perfect in all of your ways to us” my hand lifted skyward and the chills returned.
What is happening?
Pastor Labberton writes about “being rightly named means being truly known. It changes our lives…Embedded in our words and actions are the names we give and receive from others.”
What is personal and public worship but our efforts to try to grow closer to God? Labberton writes every time we gather in worship, we bring our names into the service: “Inadequate, failure, bad parent, fat, sinner through commission or sinner through omission.” Are these names accurate or are they misnames? What can we do to combat the name we carry around, the misname?
Worship… “A lifestyle of worship is God’s antidote.” .
Is God giving me a new name?
From Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor