“Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
24Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” (I Chronicles 16:23-31)
Everybody these days has a convention. If you love comic books, fantasy, sci-fi there will be a comi-con gathering in a major city somewhere near you. And you can attend with several thousands of others and be as geeky as you want. You can even dress up as your favorite characters from movies and graphic novels. Believe it or not this is one of the attractions to attending one of these events. A word of warning though, just because you can dress up in spandex like a superhero, doesn’t mean you should dress up like a super hero. While you might find someone who looks good in their super hero get up, most of these folks were the same ones you saw at the state fair last month. And a steady diet of deep-fried snickers and cheeseburgers with a donut for a bun do not a pleasant super hero outfit make. Some things one simply can’t unsee.
But as I said everyone has a convention. Baseball teams will host a gathering in the winter and you can meet your favorite players, get autographs ask questions. In order to identify with them, we wear our favorite players jersey. Football is the same way.
Even we as Christians, get in on the act. Nobody meets like the United Methodists. From Ad Council to charge conference, to Annual conference to a world-wide general conference we are the “meetingist” group you’ll ever meet. No superhero costumes, but plenty of those donuts.
I received a brochure in the mail the other day for a worship convention. Not a convention where we meet and actually worship (aka church) but an actual convention and expo about worship. I counted a list of close to 200 displays on the floor. Everything from chairs to live streaming technology to sound and speakers. Software and video lights and temperature control. Keynote speakers on innovative and high tech worship as well as worship directors and worship leaders.
I had a couple of thoughts as I leafed through the brochure. One was I wonder if when people attend these things do they dress up as their favorite worship leaders? People dressed up like Hillsong? Wearing cool hats like some in the band Rend Collective? Instead of spandex a bunch of clergy wedged into their skinny jeans and fake retro glasses, slightly mussed hair to look like worship leaders or famous preachers? One guy being ironic wearing a Brooks Brother Suit comes as Billy Graham?
The other thought was wondering when worship became so complicated? Please understand I like all the innovation. I love the technology. I helped pioneer an extensive online worship at one church I pastored. And to be honest, I probably love contemporary worship a bit more than I do traditional. And truth be told If it were closer, and I had the time I wouldn’t mind attending and seeing all they have to offer. My wife would probably make me leave the skinny jeans at home (again you can’t unsee things) but I wouldn’t mind attending.
At the same time, as I said I wonder if in our attempt to make worship bigger, faster and stronger if we’re in danger of losing the point. The focus of our worship ought never be ourselves. Or what we enjoy or what we “get out of the service” worship is supposed to be about our gathering togethe,r and honoring God . Lifting HIm up. Giving Him praise. It’s about resetting our lives that tend to get out of kilter.
Life has a way of pushing God to the side and exaggerating our difficulties and anxieties. And our own selfish natures lead us toward worshiping ourselves above everything else. When we worship, truly worship we allow God to remove us from the throne of our hearts and take His rightful place as Lord. We are reminded he is greater than our problems and anxieties. True worship isn’t about God becoming relevant to us. It’s about our lives finding relevance in Him. The mode and method don’t matter if they don’t bring us properly before the throne of God. That’s also why worship ought not be reserved for one day a week. While certainly all of our lives ought to be worshipful, we all need to take time every day, worship be reset and find our relevancy in Christ again.
As I looked at that brochure I saw this highlight: “The Hideaway- A place to sit in with the presence of God, reflect, pray, and allow your spirit to be renewed.” There in the midst of a busy expo are people in the presence of God being reset and made relevant. A people in worship. May it be so for all of us.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><