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This Is Worship. Part I

This is the first of two posts on worship. Multiple perspectives on one moment. I took this photo of my husband, Andy Johnson, on his last Sunday at our church. After almost 5 years of faithful service, he would be leaving the next week to answer God’s call in another city and another church. With him in the picture are two of his best buddies, Sam and David– special needs adults from our church. This is Andy’s perspective on this moment.

 

“This is Sam and David. I see these guys almost every Sunday.

As worship leaders we are called, at its most basic level, to help facilitate worship mostly through the acts of singing and making music. Some people like traditional hymns, some people get down with the latest Elevation anthem. That’s fine. Whatever… all good…

 

These two gentlemen have never heard of Chris Brown or Brandon Lake. They wouldn’t know the difference between Fanny Crosby or Charles Wesley. But they ABSOLUTELY can make a joyful noise. And in the sweetest way you could only understand by them being five inches from your nose, offer one of the sweetest forms of worship that I have ever had the privilege of witnessing.

 

Sam tries to “tune” my guitar and takes great pleasure when I move his hand away. It’s a little game we play. His parents tell me he’s broken every string on every guitar at his house. He’s almost broken of several of mine on a Sunday… he’s pretty quick! He’s one of the most joyful guys I’ve ever met and has an infectious laugh.

 

David understands more and is just slightly verbal. Two memories of him come to mind. One, for whatever reason we figured out he really likes “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Rick Astley. Many a Wednesday has found David sitting in my office with unplugged earphones draped around his neck (his “in-ear monitors”), music blasting and a Rick Roll rolling right over all the things I intended to do before rehearsal. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.┬á ┬áSecond, a couple weeks ago we were singing “Amen.” At the end there is a big musical stop and the vocals come in with a huge AMEN! When the orchestra was rehearsing, I was sitting with David and when that part came up, he SHOUTED “Amen!!” as loud as he could. I will never forget that.

 

Friends, please remember that worship is about the heart. And true worship transcends chord progressions, rhythm, and harmony. It doesn’t matter if you can sing or play. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the platform or way in the back of the balcony. It doesn’t matter if you speak well, or not at all, or if your words are more a series of sounds and “oohs” and “ahhs,” like Sam. Our Lord has given the gift of worship to every single thing He has fearfully, wonderfully, and perfectly created. Sam and David are testimony to that fact.

 

Lights don’t matter.

LED walls don’t matter.

Great sound systems don’t matter.

Orchestras don’t matter.

Choirs don’t matter. (I know I’m gonna get an email for that lol, just hear me out.)

Killer bands don’t matter.

$3000 guitars don’t matter.

Hip jeans and denim jackets don’t matter.

 

While none of these are wrong (please don’t hear me say that I am against them, I’m not), it seems like sometimes we decide to make these things central to the sacrifices of our worship. These have become “must haves” instead of “might haves,” unnecessarily deemed necessary in order for us to have a great “experience.”

 

Where is your heart?

Psalm 51:16-17 says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

 

I don’t believe God despises anything about what Sam and David brought to worship today, or any day. I believe He delights in it in ways that might shame other efforts. Don’t take the gift of worship, God has given us, for granted. EVER! We could learn a lot from these two men, and I will miss them greatly.” –Andy Johnson

 

Friends, this is worship. The childlike affection and devotion of the fearfully, wonderfully made. The sheer delight found singing, humming, and occasionally shouting before the Lord. The lack of concern for how it looks or sounds to others. The inability to offer more and unwillingness to offer less. These are the sacrifices He desires.

 

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