Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Spirit and in Truth

So now to balance things out with a more theological post... not deep, more of obvious, but theological nonetheless.

Three Sundays ago I started bringing my Firstborn to part of the worship service at church. She is 21 months old. I want her to learn that church is where we worship God--that worshiping God is something her parents do and enjoy, not just something her Sunday School teacher does--that Jesus is there for her, too, when she chooses Him. Heady stuff for a girl who's not yet two, but she understands more than we think, and I don't want to wait until she can grasp the doctrine of the trinity, debate Calvinism versus Arminianism, and distinguish and interpret the allegorical and prophetic portions of Revelation before she came in with us. She knows what music is, she knows what reading is, and she certainly knows what joy is.

I knew it wouldn't be easy or all-at-once. In conjunction with my plan to bring her in, we started family Bible time. Daddy reads a passage from the Bible; we talk about what it means; we pray; and then we all sing a song together. At church we go over what will happen ahead of time, and practice if we get there early. We listen to them play a song or two. We can dance if we want but don't sing along. Then they sing some more songs, and we sing along and can dance if we want. Then they read the announcements while we sit still and listen quietly. Then they read from the Bible while we sit still and listen quietly. Then we go up to the front for the children's message, and we sit still and listen quietly. Then she goes to the nursery. The hardest part is sitting still, for Firstborn. The second hardest part is quietly. If she is not doing the right thing I take her to the cry room, and she has to sit on my lap. If she is good we can go back in.

There was, however, a kink in my plans other than Firstborn's inability to sit quietly (which I believe will come with practice). I wanted Firstborn to see us worshiping God. And I wasn't.

Not because I was too busy tending a toddler and worrying about a newborn, though that was true as well. Because for years I had been going to church but not worshiping God.

And Firstborn was bound to realize this.

See, I don't stand still when I worship God. I dance. Probably not quite like David. More of interpretive movement. But I don't go to a Charismatic church or anything. Everyone else in my church stands up to sing the songs (unless, of course, there's no asterisk by the title--then they remain seated). If someone is really moved they might raise their hands in the air. But that's the limit. I could probably get away with swaying. Sometimes I would picture in my mind's eye how I would move if I were going to move with the music.

But when I worship--if I'm really going to be all there, focused on God--swaying or raising my arms is not going to cut it. If the song says to bow down, I want to bow down. If the song talks about clean hands, I want to raise them up. If the song talks about mighty waters, I want to live them. That's how God made me and how I'm wired, I guess. When I realized that it revolutionized the way I worship. But somewhere along the way I lost that. 'Cause it's weird.

But I knew my daughter needed to see me worshiping with all my heart. So I tried to. I tried to think about worshiping God and not about how silly I looked or what people would think of what I was doing. And then after Firstborn was safely in nursery, I went back in. And I just stood there and sang, because I didn't have to worship in spirit and in truth anymore.

Um, wait. Who am I worshiping and why again?

If I'm going to show my heart and my joy in worship to Firstborn... shouldn't I also be showing it, say, to God? Duh.

If that's the way I worship best, then why aren't I worshiping like that? Doesn't God want me to worship Him in the way He created me to worship?

Something's wrong if I am willing to worship God for Firstborn but not for God.

So I have been worshiping God. I know it is what he wants. I know it is right for me--and I'm not saying anyone else is doing it wrong. And it feels good (even if I still feel silly). No one has said a word about it (though many have commented how cute Firstborn is, even though she can be disruptive.)

And this Sunday I felt full of joy and energy. I started paying more attention to the sermon--not just trying to focus my ears but listening in my spirit. And it is such a joy to worship God with abandon. To recall the joy when I first found Him. To be back in the knowledge--not just in my head but in my heart--that Jesus is awesome. And I want to share what I'm learning and how I'm growing and I want everyone else to have this joy in their worship.

To worship in spirit and in truth.

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Blogger anita said...

I really enjoyed this post. Our kids have their own environment for worship during our service, so I anticipate it'll be some time before we experience that together. But I want my older son, who is six, to see us really worship. We play music loud in the car and sing and move and I want him to be part of that. Our service is casual, our music is loud, but I feel that it's true worship and while we rarely see people dance, moving and clapping is regular. I need that- I feel like I'm worshiping the most when I'm worshiping with my whole being. So far my little one is with us there each week, snug in a wrap or a sling, and I think it's no coincidence that he sleeps so well during it- it's when I'm most at peace and I think he feels that.

Anyway, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this today.

2:35 PM  

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