It’s 11 hours until church. I’m already a little bit tingly over the prospect.
What? You think I might be a religious zealot? Au contraire, mon frère. I am zeaolous in my faith, but not like you might think.
No, I love God, feel that Jesus is my friend, and feel blessed that my church is such a fun place. Does church have to be fun? It had better be, because it’s competing with all the fun stuff Satan has out there for the masses. Why can’t God cut a rug as well.
As far back as King David there has been a rich tradition of music, dance, and worship going together. And in 11 hours at The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church it’s all going to kick loose for another week. David would be right at home with my church.
Here’s why I like my church: I’ve attended churches that were dour and they don’t do much for the soul in my opinion. I grew up as a Catholic and that was just fine. I still go to Catholic Mass on a semi-regular basis during the week. The Catholic Church is an institution that has been bringing Christ to the people for millenia. Unfortunately, in my experience it was about as exciting as creamed chipped beef on white toast when I was a younger man. It filled you up, kept the engine running, was tasty on occasion, but lacked the spice and zest that made you want it every day of the week in my case. I know that’s not true for many and I don’t mean this to bash Catholicism. I’m just saying that it wasn’t what I needed or wanted as my worship. Judging by the number of the faithful who are at the Cathedral of Saint Paul every morning when I walk in the doors, it’s a great experience for most of the 1 billion Catholics in the world. And, I truly feel the presence of God when I’m in that building. So, part-time it works for me as well.
The second church I belonged to, the one where I was truly born again, started out great but trailed off. Probably because I was a deacon. Like Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” Or, in this case, make me a Deacon. Seriously, it was a decent experience right up to the day when the music ministry quit/got fired/who knows. The pastor kept that one a secret. And that’s when the boredom set in for me personally. My days were numbered. Not that the people who led praise and worship weren’t good souls who tried their darnedest, but when the instruments vanished so did my joy and enthusiasm. It was a profoundly sad experience to watch the church dwindle. I often joked, in a very sad way, that you couldn’t call it a choir when it was one less person than a trio. And, as I’ve said, I’m probably partly to blame as a deacon, because I didn’t have a fix. Tried very hard to turn things around, gave it my all, but failed in the end. And because I didn’t want to be a leader who didn’t believe in the organization any more, I left.
That brings me to my current church. As I discussed some time back, we really searched for this church. We attended several churches in our “hunt” for a church home. And we kept coming back to this one. Why? I think a great part of it is the joy and the music.
Here’s a little sample before I go any further. I’ll be back to explain after the song.
It’s like that every week. This isn’t just a one time deal. I sit down and smile when I see the choir heading up to their chairs. I sway along with the crowd (and look like a very happy doofus doing it) and sing along if I know the words. And I watch. I watch the Holy Spirit flood through the ushers and members. I watch the ushers dance in the aisles, I listen to the hands clap along, I see the smiles, the look of restoral and relief, and I feel God’s presence wash over all of us.
Music is a vital part of worship. That’s why I can feel that tingle now. I feel it throughout the week. I look forward to my two hours in that building every Sunday. I’ve never walked out of that building feeling worse than when I went in the doors. And I cannot honestly say that about other churches I’ve been in over the years.
Is it cheap entertainment? Is it just suckering people in to dance and sing? Not if the spirit of the worship is right. And it is well established by the Minister of Music and the Pastor, you aren’t here for a concert. You’re here to worship God. And the music does that for me. It helps me frame my worship. I could quietly pray, I could write books about my faith, I could do a lot of things, but that music brings it out in me every week.
Why a church with music? It’s not my cultural tradition. It’s not my experience. But it’s my life. Sometimes God touches you in a way you cannot explain. And this church is where I belong. It’s where my wife belongs. It’s where I need to be every week. I honestly love the place and the people, but what I love most is what the worship does for my relationship with Christ. He’s there. He’s leading us in song.
And I’m pretty sure he taught the ushers how to do that dance they do in the aisles. Because it’s coming from the heart of love and goodness. And it warms me to no end.
Now it’s only 10 hours and 20 minutes until services. Time to head off to bed and get ready. I want to be well rested for the Holy Ghost Party at 9:30 tomorrow morning.