In a conversation with someone last night, I realized that I had been leading worship for more than 20 years. It's interesting to think about that, considering that's more than half of my life. Corporate worship is a very poignant thing to me. We come together as a community of faith, our hearts united to bring glory and honor to the One who has saved us, who calls us His own. It's not about us, it's about Him.
A few years back, I wanted to bring the teams that I led through a teaching time on worship. I looked around to see if I could find appropriate curriculum, but I felt like everything I found was coming up short. So, I sat down, and over a course of months, I put together my own curriculum. It wasn't perfect, but it was a start.
When I finished it, I had to think of something appropriate to call it. Simply calling it "Worship Study" wasn't really satisfactory, at least, not to me. I had been a fan of much of what was coming out of a church in Australia called "Hillsong" for a number of years. I had read the books written by their worship leader and was fond of the songs that were being put out by them. Many years earlier, they had put out an album called, "Touching Heaven, Changing Earth." It seemed a fairly appropriate description of what we do when we come together as a community to worship God. We seek to allow the words of the Lord's Prayer to come true, that God's kingdom would come, on earth as it is in heaven.
My church has been experiencing some amount of difficulty as of late, but we have seen God's hand in the midst of it all. In fact, on the day that much of the difficulty came to a head, without any knowledge of what would be taking place, we had planned a night of corporate worship. Many people, after having had very difficult afternoons dealing with some of the circumstances, came together that evening for the sole purpose of worshipping God. God had planned for us to come together, perfectly ordained it, for a time of worship and healing. He brought us together, not to focus on ourselves, but to focus on Him, the One who has always and will always provide for our needs.
In 20+ years of leading worship, I have never experienced an evening of worship with such poignancy. There was something different about that night, and when it all came to an end, there was almost a sense that people did not want to leave. People found something in the presence of God that could not be found elsewhere.
I know that there are many people who decry contemporary praise songs for their emotionalism and sentimentality, but anyone who knows me, knows that I do my best to be prayerful and thoughtful as I choose which songs that we sing as a congregation. All of the songs that we sang together that night spoke deep into the heart of where we were, and I had chosen them well before the events of that day. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was instrumental in making those decisions.
Today is a new day. The difficulties are not behind us, but there is brightness ahead. We may not see clearly everything on the path before us, but God gives us just enough light to keep our anxiety at bay and withholds enough so that we never think that we can do it without His help. We are on a journey, an adventure of sorts, as we are written into the story of God. As we come together, seeking to be used by God for His purpose, my prayer is that we can touch heaven and change earth, and in the midst of it, we will be changed ourselves.