May 17, 2010

Thirsty

A friend posted a worship music video on Facebook yesterday. Not unusual, to be sure, but it hit me hard. How many times are we walking, striving, even struggling though situations, conflict, life and not realize how thirsty we are for the calming, cleansing effects of simple, honest worship. It is this kind of worship that brings me to my knees...and to tears.

Living out my faith as a Messianic Jewish believer is definitely different than that of the mainstream Christian believer. I love our liturgical synagogue service, the symbolism and history of our people. Performing the mitzvot (commands; like Sabbath, festivals, tzitzit, etc.) in a very hands-on way is something that, in my opinion, is missing from the church. I mean no disrespect, believe me; the church has one thing we don't seem to be able to get, and that is musical worship.

Maybe it's just the group of believers I'm in, or maybe it's just me...who knows. But the ability to stand, or kneel, before the LORD in a group, worshiping with voices and hands raised to our Father and Messiah...well, the church has that well in hand. Musicians leading the congregation to bow before our Creator and Savior is a gift and a talent.

I miss it.

It's more than just singing songs. It's more than the successful execution of the music or the artful harmony of the singers. It's the attitude of the group, perhaps, the willingness to put aside pride and appearances and bow before the One who has saved our souls from certain death. I refuse to accept that it is only the more charismatic of believers that can lift their hands and faces to the heavens and cry out to Him in praise, honor, and worship.

I know there are those that live only for these experiences of group worship, foregoing the daily 'walk' of the commands or hard study of the Word. I don't think this is right, either. There needs to be both; living out the Scriptures 'in spirit and in truth', doing everything we can to perform and pass down the commands to the next generation and open and public worship as a community in humble submission and acknowledgment that we cannot keep the Torah perfectly and need a Savior. Please don't hear me suggesting that Messianic believers don't worship - I'm not suggesting that. What I am saying is that perhaps we need to take a lesson from the church and re-learn what it means to worship our LORD with our voices and physical bodies.

I have heard, in the Temple of our LORD, the priests worshiped. There were Levitical choirs and musicians worshiping, some Temple workers on their knees, even prone, hands raised in praise to our G-d. When did that change? The destruction of the Temple? How sad...for us all.

I'm not blaming anyone but myself for my, shall we say, dryness. I could stand during our worship time, raise my hands and voice in honest worship. The fact that I sit in the front row and have a job to do during our 'music time' would make that a little difficult, but it's still up to me to take responsibility for my own worship. There are a few in our congregation that refuse to sit during worship - I applaud them for their steadfast thought that they should stand; we are, after all, worshiping the Almighty.

And, another thing; I am concerned about the example set for my, our, children regarding worship. When my kids were much younger, I would worship in the car, singing, raising my hands, even getting emotional at times, and the kids never thought two things about it. However, years later, they are now teens and well, it just makes me a little uncomfortable. They don't remember what it means to stand, sing...and worship. It's just not expected of them. *sigh* Again, my fault. Shame on me.

It has been said that, especially with prayer, that it is "the position of your heart, not the position of your body" that counts. OK, I agree with that. But there is definitely a time and a place for positioning your body for worship. We face the east, toward Jerusalem, during the Shema and don't we all automatically bow our heads during a prayer? Perhaps standing during singing and worship time shouldn't be out of our comfort zone.

And that comes back to my bottom line; the ability to worship freely and openly depends upon the attitudes of the group as a whole. It has to be accepted behavior to stand, raise hands, kneel, sing out, cry to our LORD in order for worshipers to feel comfortable 'letting go' of appearances. I think that is where the church has it right. It's not only accepted, it's encouraged.

So, thank you to my friend who posted the worship music video - I really needed that. I was so, so thirsty and didn't even realize it. To have a rich, dynamic, foundational faith we must worship honestly and openly - could this be considered the 'confessing' of our faith? Without a doubt our worship gives glory to our G-d like nothing else can, as we all know He 'inhabits the praises of His people'. And, even if I have to do that in the privacy of my own home, I will do that. But, I long for the experience of group worship, of believers gathering all of one mind. One mind to worship our Master.




O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand

~Ps 95

3 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

Amein! :o)

Netanya said...

Amein! You know how I feel on this topic! We are of one heart and mind on this for sure. I love Messianism,but how I long for the day (that may never come regretfully) that Believers in the shul (our shul) would let go of staunch behavior, fear of looking charismatic and whatever else binds them, and REALLY worhsip. How powerful would that be? I've seen people healed and delivered just by worshipping with everything in them, seeking the hert and face of the Father.
Without that kind of worship , it feels like living in the Sahara. It is a sad dry place to be.
I don't have alone time at home for this to happen, so those blissful times of refreshing are few.
Even when on the worship team back in the day, if God moved me to , I had no quals about falling to my knees or flat on my face in surrender and worship, and we all had the freedom to do so.
I pray we see that day come,it could not happen too soon.

Lamar said...

This is where I tend to drift towards a decidedly more Chassidic-like mindset, methinks. Singing *and* dancing (with music emanating from the soul as well as instruments!) having its time and place in worship. Needless to say, I have yet to find this. It seems too common that "we" are either one extreme or the other when it comes to this... and *that* is what makes it all the more sad. Why is it so hard to balance? My heart goes out to you, my friend! I pray that one day we can all find the very thing that we chase after...