Until I was 18, I attended church in the booming metropolis of Scranton PA every Sunday. I LOVED church… but it had little to do with Jesus and mostly to do with my friends--and boyfriend! Worshiping in my teens was a huge challenge for me. The biggest challenge was trying not to let anyone see my BFF, Susie and I laughing. (You know how your shoulders bob up-and-down sometimes when you laugh? Well, it's even worse when you're laughing inappropriately. It's horrible! Think Mary Tyler Moore Show and the funeral of Chuckles the Clown. YouTube it!) The dirty looks from my parents only added to the challenge.
I did not attend church in college or my 20s, but once I joined FPC Bethlehem in my early 30s, the worship experience started to change into something more meaningful and Jesus-based. I grew to love worship for all its components: prayers, scriptures, sermons, music, and fellowship. I continue to learn and be reminded that all that we do in worship, all we say, all we sing, all we think--now that's a tough one--is for an 'Audience of One'….our God! It is not about Joan being spiritually entertained!
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You.
It’s all about You, Jesus
HEART OF WORSHIP
Lyrics by Michael W. Smith
A few weeks ago, Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Seminary, shared this with us about worship, "We come to worship to renew our vision of Jesus. It's all about lifting up our eyes!" What he said was somewhere in my head, but he put it into words for me, words that have profoundly reminded me of the real reason, the heart of worship, even after all these years! (Slow learner? Steep learning curve? Lack of focus? Shallow gene pool? Who knows??)
If I were to compare worship to a kind of theater performance and ask myself to identify the stage, I would probably locate it in the front of the church, seeing the worship leaders, ministers, choir, and musicians as the actors performing for a congregational audience. The Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard asks us to see the sanctuary as the stage in which the entire congregation is prompted by the worship leaders, ministers, choir, and musicians. The audience is God!
When the music fades all is stripped away
And I simply come longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart.
I’ll bring You more than a song for a song in itself
Is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart.
He looks into my heart as I worship His.
King of endless worth no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor all I have is Yours
Every single breath…
Jesus, our divine, loving, gracious, merciful Audience of One, deserves our all--our best--as we worship Him! May it be so.