Monday, July 26, 2010

Anticipating Worship

I experienced the Hillsong Live concert tonight. I use the word experience completely on purpose. That's what the team I'm on at church is called - the Experience Team. It's our role to create experiences for people to encounter Jesus and fuel them to follow Him (hence the name of the other team - the Follow Team). Tonight I got a glimpse of why creating spaces for people to encounter God means so much to furthering the kingdom.
What I am about to write is in no way based on fact, simply my own experience tonight as I worshiped. I had multiple opportunities to experience God as the many different things He embodies. I knew Him as Healer during "Desert Song" and "You Hold Me Now". I knew Him as Almighty God during "Stronger". I knew Him as Hosanna in the Highest during - you guessed it - "Hosanna". I knew Him as brother and friend as I stood next to (besides my family) the dearest people in the world to me. I knew Him as humble and as defender as I listened to the Hillsong pastor describe the woman who poured out her alabaster jar on Jesus. I knew Him as Savior during just about every song, and I felt something. According to my friend, I felt a lot of kick drum - but other than that, I felt something internal.
I remember thinking many years ago - how can people worship while they're jumping up and down, flailing their arms and shouting? Then I pictured a UK basketball game and...oh, did I say that out loud? Anyway, I used to think those actions might not be genuine. Seriously, I thought that! I grew up in a church where we did not even clap - not even when someone finished singing. It's awkward. Trust me, I experienced that, too! I feel certain that the only thing TRULY worth jumping up and down for is a God who loves us like He does and takes us like we are.
I learned tonight, I felt refueled tonight and I felt really, really loved. I felt really loved by God that He would give me the chance to just participate in worship tonight beside friends and even some of the people I lead with. What a privilege! I felt loved that I didn't have to lead and could just drink it all in - with a giant Panera frappuccino sized straw (have you seen those things?!). I felt really loved that I got to welcome people at the door. The whole night turned out differently than I planned from who I sat with to serving as a volunteer, but God's plans are always SO MUCH BETTER.
Afterwards I thought about the reason why tonight was so good. I think the greatness could be attributed to the genuine spirit of the leaders and band. I think it could be attributed to the good songs we sang. Mostly, though, I think it was good because everyone there (or at least 99%) of the people there came READY to worship. To worship was the whole point of the evening and people came anticipating to experience God through worship. To be honest, I think there's only so much we can do as an Experience Team to create spaces and experiences for people to encounter and know Jesus. I think the real work is for those who know Jesus to anticipate that they just might have an experience with Him in worship - that they would anticipate worship.
I think day to day we need to expect to experience Him. He wants to be found and known and heard - not because He is egocentric, but because He's given up everything to come after us and bring us back to Himself. Mostly, though, because He loves us a lot and just wants to be with us.
So maybe this weekend if you come to Southland for the thousandth or the first time you could try to come ready to worship. Anticipating not that by the third song or message you'll experience God, but that from the moment you enter the room you will. God's word says that He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). Whether or not God will show up is not up for debate. He promises He will. So, come ready to experience Him. He'll be there.