Today is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter. It was the day of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey. The crowd was filled with adoration and worship for Jesus the King; they threw down palm branches and their own cloaks (coats) and sang Psalm 118: 25–26: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.”
The word “worship” can mean a lot of things – depending on the person using it and their religious beliefs. The word is overused in post-modern American culture. We hear about sun-worshippers (people who enjoy sun bathing), and of men/women who worship their love interests. But, my question for today is how do you worship God?
When I think of true worship, I think of abandon. I think about that Pentecostal church where everyone went wild. But the crazy “holy-rolling” style of worship rubs me wrong. I just have a bad feeling about it. On the other hand, the worship I grew up with is not very different from the way I still worship in church. When we sang hymns at the FOC, we were calm and in control. Nobody lifted their hands in worship or harmonized. We sang the words in the hymnal along to the piano accompaniment. Now, I attend a church with a worship band and the words to the songs are projected onto huge overhead screens. Some people in my church – I’d estimate a third of the people – raise their hands when the spirit moves them. Some clap their hands during some songs. Nobody dances. We are calm and in control. Can you really worship while being “in control”?
When I think about worship, I also think about the story of David worshipping in his underclothes:
And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
2 Samuel 6:14-16
Can you imagine? A man – a leader – out in the courtyard dancing in his underwear? How could you NOT judge? Well, we know that Michal Saul’s daughter was smitten with a barren womb as the punishment of her judgmental thoughts.
So where is the middle ground? Should I rethink my own attitude about the way the Pentecostals worship? Should I lift my hands during worship services? For me, it isn’t a question of how I worship, it is where I worship. I worship at home while listening to worship music and washing dishes. And sometimes during church services, I close my eyes and just sing to God. So, I’m not there yet. I’m not even close to understanding how to worship authentically.
How do you worship? Where do you worship? What does worship mean to you?