We had an interesting dilemma this Sunday as the body of believers gathered together. In spite of the fact that we had three computer geeks looking at our Dell, we couldn't get our computer to communicate with our projector. What this meant is that no one could see the words to the songs. As they came into the Sanctuary, they could see the nice background of the ocean waves lapping the shore amongst some majestic rocks. But no words. We all kind of looked around at each other thinking and asking, "What do we now?" It was time to start, but without words for people to follow, how would we worship? So we made the announcement first in hopes that one of the techies would figure it out. After two jokes and three announcements, still no words. So we had our 'grin and grip' time where everyone welcomes one another and introduces themselves. This bought us a few more minutes, but as the conversation died down and it was becoming uncomfortably quite in the room, still no words. The worship leader looked at me with that same expression: "What do I do?" All I could think to say was, "Just worship. Tell people they don't need words. Go for it." And so he did. He said we could follow him as best we could and worship God from the heart. Ironically, before we reached the first chorus, the tech guys got it figured out and we had words. And there was much rejoicing.
I've been thinking a lot the last couple of days about how typical that is of our worship. Why is it that to worship God, we need to have words to the song accurately projected in a font that's large enough with clear contrast and a pretty picture? Especially when most of the people in the room know the words already? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against projecting the words and letting people sing along. I'm not against helping newcomers feel welcome by providing the words so they know what's going on. But have we maybe accustomed ourselves to a way of worshipping that God never intended? Think about it- we are programmed to have things right first, and then we worship. The band has practiced and prepped, and then we worship. But it doesn't happen in this way just on Sunday (or Saturday or whenever we meet as a church). We need the right CD to playing so we can worship. We need our environment to be right so we feel like worshipping. We need to be in the right mood, have the right amount of time, or know the right words so that we can worship God.
Honestly, what happened to worshipping God from the heart? I think in our modern culture (our post-modern culture, for that matter), we have lost the essence of worship; the authentic move of our hearts towards God. The idea that no matter where we are or how we're feeling, we can turn our spirits towards Him and say, "You are Lord, you are good, and I worship You." The way it is now, we are in great danger of becoming programmed worshippers. God seeks worship that is real and unscheduled, happening even as often as we breath; our hearts over and over proclaiming His presence and His peace. No music, no voices, and no words necessary.
Don't let worship become a scheduled event. Don't put it on hold. Just worship. Tell people they don't need words. Go for it!