Musings on Worship and Respect

This week I found myself contemplating ideas such as worship and respect. It started Thursday night, when a friend invited me to attend a Bryan Adams concert. She had a spare ticket; I only needed to be asked once. We had seats on the floor, about two-thirds of the way back, and the dance space was limited. Deanna and I bopped in place for the first part of the concert, banging elbows with those beside us, but having ourselves a great time, nonetheless. Bryan and his band played for 2 1/2 hours straight with no opening act and no intermission. The band occasionally took breaks and Bryan would do an acoustic number, but the show proceeded non-stop. It was impressive. The band was tight, Bryan’s vocals were on, and the crowd was into the show. So, into the show, actually, that I couldn’t help but compare the screams and catcalls and the raised hands, the dancing, the singing, smiling, laughing riotous time with the worship services of church. “Bryan! Bryan!” screamed a fan. I thought about the respect akin to worship which we were all giving to this man, who, although definitely skilled, was merely part of creation, and his talent, though honed, was nothing more than an aspect of creation. “How odd,” I thought, “That we humans greet the Creator of that talent in such a subdued capacity while losing ourselves in overt displays of grovelling gratitude to a mere man. With how much less enthusiasm and awe do we worship the Creator? And how completely backwards is that!” It was a good concert. Bryan Adams and his band put on a good show. Their talent is worthy of respect. They pale in comparison to almighty God.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
and worshipped and served created things
rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 

Later in the week while at work, I encountered another situation in which respect was at issue. During the lunch rush at our restaurant, two long-haired, shaggy looking men sat in my section. Both were extremely polite to me, but the brass knuckles they wore on their fingers and the leather Hells Angels coats they wore on their backs raised this caution inside me. There is a form of respect driven of knowledge, and fear, and I felt it at that moment. That is the type of respect gang affiliation garners Then, standing at their table, looking down on them as I waited for their order, it was as if God showed me how he saw these two men. “They are two of my children whom I also love.” What a perspective. It seems likely that neither of these men are well-behaved by societal or Biblical standards. Tales of the willingness of the Hells Angels to perpetrate violence against those who get in the way of their will abound in abundance. Regardless of the truth of these tales, the reputation fostered serves them well. The Hells Angels, while feared rather than loved, are nonetheless respected by most. It is the form of respect reserved for thoughts of self-preservation. Would you willingly cross a gang member? Probably not. And yet, that is not how God sees them, nor why he would have me treat them with respect. He created these people. Part of his heart loves them, just as he loves me. No man is so talented that he deserves greater respect than the God who built that talent, and no man is so depraved and locked into the violence of his soul that God can not look at him and see that this man was created in the image of God to be a reflection of God and to experience the love of God. Worship is to be reserved for the one true God. True respect is found through Him.

[ A Living Sacrifice ] Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God
—this is your true and proper worship.

Serving in Surprising Ways

The Christmas season is now behind us, despite the fact that my eldest daughter wants to keep our tree up until her birthday — February 23.

Me: “We can keep it up a bit longer, but I don’t think it’s going to make your birthday.”

Her: “But I like it!”

Maybe that is why I still have Christmas carolling on my mind.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas carols. Oh, I mean, who doesn’t like Rudolf or Silver Bells, but as to singing them in church over the month of December? Never really been my fav. I mean, some of these carols actually have eight verses! I am not exaggerating. And they all sound the same. And they all speak in Ancient English. So, to all of you who love the Christmas Carols, to each their own.

The irony of it is, as a worship leader, I have been immersed in Christmas Carols over the last few Decembers. I have even found some that I really quite love. And then of course I released my own Christmas Album, although part of me was inwardly shaking my head all the time going, You? You don’t even like Christmas Carols! It’s funny how when God puts a project on our hearts to complete, even those things we don’t necessarily think we like become life to our souls.

This winter, one of my besties, Deanna came with me to play guitar and bass when I was invited to sing at the Touch of Christmas Craft Sale in order to benefit shut ins. So, when she then decided she wanted to go Christmas Carolling for the Salvation Army Kettle Drums, I was happy to return the favour. 

Deanna signed us up for three different time slots, though I was working through one of them, and so, away we went. With guitars and song sheets in hand, she and I took ourselves out to raise money for the kettles. The experience changed the way I view those volunteers. Next year, I will take coffee offerings with me when I donate my toonies and loonies to the cause.

The first day, we sang outside a busy drug store location. It was great for the first hour. By 90 minutes in, my toes were freezing inside my boots. 2 hours in my fingers were so cold I could no longer feel where they were placed on the guitar strings, so I gave up and packed the guitar away, and from that point my contribution consisted of vocals only. Somewhere in hour two it started to snow, big, fluffy, beautiful flakes that landed on my nose and in my hair. Also somewhere in hour two Deanna’s kids arrived and the song selection became a lot more secular and quite fun as we vainly tried to recall the gifts on all 12 Days of Christmas from memory. 

People stopped to watch us. A lot of people donated money. Children and their parents joined in and sang along. 

It was Deanna’s birthday. One we will never forget. By hour three, when our shift was done, I could barely speak, let alone sing, I was frozen, needed a bathroom and a coffee, but there was definite satisfaction in the job we had done.

The next time we went out, our location was prime. We got to stand inside the entrance to Superstore Grocery store. It was warmer, dryer, and the vaulted ceiling of the entry did something quite spectacular to the acoustics of our songs. This time we were joined by Deanna’s mother, who had just arrived for Christmas from Northern BC (You are a trooper, Sheila!). The three of us sang from our little repertoire, and then we added Lil Drummer (Girl) to the mix, with Deanna playing guitar, my drumming on my guitar and all of us singing. At least, I was singing when I wasn’t laughing so hysterically at my horrid drumming skills. Timing? What timing? But hey… it sounds cool if you bang against the strings, and if you bang on the side of the guitar, and if you tap with your knuckles and… Deanna said, “It would be bad if you broke your guitar,” which may have been my cue to take it down a notch.

“And that,” I proudly proclaimed at the end of the song, “Is why I am not the drummer in the band!” 

Because we were warm and indoors, we actually had an audience of sorts this time around. People would stop and listen to multiple songs. Again, people would sing along. One man walked past saying, “Bah, humbug!” But he grinned when I responded with, “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch…” and then realized that those were all the lyrics I knew. We saw a lot of people we knew, got a lot of thank you’s, a lot of positive feedback, and one request for ACDC. 

But, it felt good, what we had done. It felt like people really actually liked hearing the spirit of the season brought to them at their little local grocery corner. It felt like we should gather more participants and do it again the next year.

IMG_5615There are so many places and way to serve that we overlook every day. When you get the chance to do something, just go. You never know how much fun you might have, whose day you might brighten, or what impact you might have. At the end of the day, you may even find yourself with a deeper appreciation of Christmas Carols, or your own personal equivalent.

Scripture of the Day for January 14

Colossians 3:1-17

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

New International Version