We worship a God who defies our every attempt of putting Him in a box. Likewise, our worship of Him is a much bigger concept that takes on many expressions, forms and styles. This blog is simply one worship leader’s observations of the many expressions worship takes on in our lives, forming a fuller picture with each entry. I am by no means a trained or profound theologian, but I have lived and led worship for years, experiencing the many facets of worship, and continue to follow this calling with you. Hope you enjoy it and join the conversation with your own experiences!
Worship = Celebration
How many times have you struggled through a morning rehearsal, maybe waited for late players, fought charts you should have marked earlier and arrived at the start of your worship set feeling totally unready to worship God? If you’ve been there before, I say good for you! It’s an opportunity to shine, since our worship times should be a celebration of God regardless of how we feel or what we’re going through, and the fact that we are able to celebrate Him anyway is a sign of maturity.
I thought long and hard about how to start writing about the many facets of worship under the “Worship =” heading, and chose to start with celebrating God through our worship sets, because it is a major part of our worship of Him, and the Bible has so many examples about how He wants us to celebrate His goodness and His presence. Old Testament worship is full of loud and upbeat moments of worship, and without ignoring the vital intimate moments, we really are called to celebrate Him. Psalm 150: 5-6 says,
“Praise Him with a clash of cymbals; praise Him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!” (NLT)
It’s not the only place in the Old Testament where we are called to celebrate, as you can just follow the story of the Israelites and find that time and time again they were called to get loud, exuberant and full of joy because of who God is and what He has done.
Thanks to my friend and boss Kathe Wood at CVCHURCH (www.cvchurch.com), we have approached worship as a celebration, and it has really opened our eyes to how God wants to be worshiped on Sundays when we get together. Celebration isn’t just about a party with a loud band with a bunch of hip worship songs, it’s an expression of a grateful heart towards God that we owe everything to and who loves us completely. It’s also the result of an intimate personal relationship with Him – the closer we know Him, the more exuberant our worship of Him becomes when we come together as the church.
The danger of only viewing our worship times as a celebration is to ignore the depth and reverence of our worship of God and falling into mere entertainment, creating a forced experience each Sunday that will satisfy the immediate cravings of the churchgoers and leaders, but eventually leave both feeling empty and lost. In our celebration, it is imperative that we realize who we worship and give our all to always have Jesus at the very center of it.
To fully celebrate Him, I believe we also need to provide a worship offering from our greatest joys to our hardest challenges in an honest way, and the songs and our leading should reflect it. To truly celebrate God, we are challenged to bring everything to the table and allow Him to remind us of His perspective in all of life’s situations. When we do that, He fills us with His Spirit and an assurance that goes beyond anything we could find anywhere else. That’s what it means to “worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) in the context of our Sunday worship times.
The new Rend Collective CD, “The Art of Celebration,” paints a great picture, where we are called to celebrate God regardless of our circumstances or feelings and in all situations. The song “Joy” sums it up with these lyrics:
We’re choosing celebration
Breaking into freedom
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts
We cast aside our shadows
Trust You with our sorrows
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts
Something powerful happens when we come and celebrate God in faith. If we are able to sing how much we still trust Him when things are upside down, it is a demonstration of the depth of our faith and faithfulness to God. When He finds us faithful, He will be able to use us to the fullest, fulfilling the deepest desires of our hearts.
Viewing our times of worship as a celebration does not exclude depth or theology. On the contrary, it is theological, biblical and deep. Embracing the concept of worship as celebration will have a profound effect on our churches’ worship lives, as people will be able to let go of their reservations and become full of joy. It is not willful ignorance of our circumstances but a conscious choice to celebrate God simply because of who He is and because we have the joy of knowing Him. Let’s raise the level of celebration in our worship times, and we will see how awesome our God truly is as He starts moving among us!