Since the beginning, worship has bound God's faithful together. And torn them apart.
After King David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to his city, the people erupted into spontaneous and enthusiastic praise of God—singing, dancing and playing instruments. The most unrestrained of them all, perhaps, was David who "danced before the LORD with all his might."
His wife Michal watched the goings on from a window and thought David's behavior was downright detestable. She greeted him with a verbal slap across the face: "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"
Yet, even stinging criticism couldn't dampen David's joy. "I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
I marvel at David's freedom. But for me—and many of those I know—undignified... humiliated... foolish... in worship? Not likely.
In Haiti there's a rural village called Kwa Kok (Cross of the Rooster). There's no church or school there and the residents have to walk two hours to reach the nearest church. As a result most of them just don't go to church.
The Sunday I was in Haiti we brought church to Kwa Kok. Under the branches of a massive shade tree we set up the chairs we'd brought.
|"Church To Go." Do NOT try this at home! (Yes the truck is moving!)|
|Folks quickly changed into their Sunday best.|
Part way through the service there was a disturbance. Behind the worship leader (in full view of the congregation) was a dirt lane, and coming down this lane was a man. But he wasn't walking. It seemed he was horribly crippled and only had the use of his left arm, which he was using to drag himself along the dirt to make his way to church. He was filthy and other than wearing a t-shirt, he was completely naked.
At first I was shocked and horrified by the scene. I'd never seen anything like this before, certainly not at church! I wasn't sure how to respond.
But the service never skipped a beat as the man joined us. A few helped him sit on a bench. Then, in what seemed like seconds later, Dessalines (from our Haitian team) walked over to him with a pair of boxer shorts that he and Pastor Valentin helped the man put them on. I remember thinking how remarkable it was that we had an extra pair of shorts with us.
I found out later that we didn't have an extra pair. In a split second, Dessalines made the decision to go into our bus, remove his boxer shorts and give them to the man. Not because someone asked him to do it, but because he loves Jesus—and this is what Jesus would do. (I'm not sure there was a dry eye among us Americans as we witnessed this stunningly beautiful scene.)
|The man is there on end, to the right. He sat there all through worship and VBS, clapping as he could.|
Maybe some muttered their disapproval or whispered to their neighbor, "How he distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the Americans as any vulgar fellow would!"?
And yet, surely he responded, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
And in his celebration we experienced the love language of worship. Mesi Senye!