(Note: For those of you who may have stumbled across this entry, I'm part of a Church of Christ that has recently added an instrumental service. There are a lot of very strong opinions about this subject. This blog entry isn't meant to add to that debate; rather, it's to describe the reaction to one person's worship experience. If people want to debate the instrumental music topic, there are other, better places to do so than here.)
Sunday, our church had its first regular instrumental service. It was Easter, an appropriate day to add a new service. We had over 600 people attend that service; we ran out of communion elements, and some people couldn't see.
Frank and I were not two of the 600 people. I went to a worship night we had at church before we started the instrumental service, and it was LOUD. Frank also has chronic ringing of the ears, and at a certain point, he becomes unable to hear. So we elected not to stay. Our non-instrumental service is at 8:45, Bible classes are at 10 a.m., and the instrumental service is at 11 a.m.
Matthew, however, decided he wanted to. The instrumental service takes place in the youth center, so he was already there, front row center. I asked Matthew if he wanted to stay; he said yes, so Frank and I went up the street, had lunch, and then came back to the building.
I caught the end of the service . . . and there, on the front row, in the middle, stood my son, jamming away on air guitar!
I asked Matthew if he had a good time and he said yes. The main thrust of his conversation was about the lights. Our youth center was renovated to put in a new sound/light system. Matthew is comparing the youth center to a game show set, with all its lights and sounds. (The youth center is not quite that elaborate.)
Tuesday, before my ladies' group got started, we talked about the service, and I mentioned that Matthew was playing air guitar . . . and one of the other women there said, "We are still talking about that in my family." She went on to explain that they admired Matthew's uninhibited worship.
To be honest, I don't think Matthew was worshiping as much as he was just plain having fun playing air guitar. Although, I will be the first person to say that he may understand more than I give him credit for.
But what is it with us that we fear just "throwing ourselves open", in a sense, when we do worship God? Why do we feel that we have to be so formal with Him, with our "thees" and "thous"? I know that we're commanded to do things in "decency and order" . . . but I don't think that means to worship God only with head bowed, eyes closed, sitting up straight in a church pew.
I once heard worship being described as "three cheers for God". When a crowd cheers at a football game, you KNOW it. It is loud and uninhibited. You don't have to guess which side a fan is on. You will either figure it out or they will let you know.
One doesn't have to have instruments to be uninhibited in worship, either. I have seen uninhibited worship without instruments as well. Worship can be uninhibited with instruments or without, in silence or with voices, in a whisper or in a shout. I don't doubt that when the Israelites sang the Psalms, they didn't just say, "Hallelujah," in an "inside voice" (like we tell our kids, "use your inside voices, please!") "Hallelujah" is just not a word you whisper. Neither is "hosanna," used when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. That is a word you shout, just like you shout, "We're number one!"
If a kid jamming away on air guitar during church singing helps even one person to be uninhibited in worship--if it helps even one person to hold nothing back, but to cry out in a "Hallelujah!" or "Hosanna!"--well, then . . . jam away!
Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.