I long for full freedom in the church, freedom for everyone to worship in the way they want to, in a style that fits them. Unfortunately we (and by we I mean most churches, in most denominations) are very uniform in our worship and uniformity I find completely inhibits freedom.
It is hard to be the one that stands out, it is hard to be loud when everyone else is quiet, it is hard to stand if everyone else is sitting, it is hard to celebrate if everyone else is somber.
I don’t know where we get it from, somehow it feels like there’s an eleventh command: – Church shall be boring! There is a distinct peer preassure saying, dont you dare to worship in any other way than all the rest. I have been trying for months now to get our youth group in Riga 1 to pray out loud (at the same time) but to no avail. Even the youth have been formed in this tight uniform of silence and stillness. Don’t get me wrong I believe there is a time to meet God in the stillness, to listen carefully to the whisper of the Holy Spirit but I also firmly believe there is a time for loud celebration and proclamation.
So in order to strengthen my resolv I decided to study what the scripture says about worship and boy, was I in for a surprise. Studying prayer and worship in the Old Testament you find that worship is indeed a loud and noisy affair. Listen to these words used by david. (Just a few of my favorites taken from the Behit Tehila website)
HALAL – (#1984 to praise, to celebrate hilariously, to be clamorously foolish, to rave, to boast, to make a show, to shine forth. Root word in “Halleluyah” (literally means “Praise Yah”).
“Praise the L-rd!” Ps. 149:1; 150:1-6
“Whosoever offereth praise glorifieth Me.” Ps. 50:23
“Great is the L-rd, and greatly to be praised.” I Chr. 16:25
“And the people said Amen, and praised the L-rd.” I Chr. 16:36
GUWL – (1523) to spin around under the influence of strong emotion; to spin like a top; to rejoice and be glad. Most often translated “rejoice”.
“Let the daughters of Judah rejoice.” Ps 48:11
“Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation”. Isa 25:9
“Let the earth be glad and let the sea rejoice”. Ps 96:11
“Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness”. Isa 65:18-19
“The Lord Thy G-d in the midst of thee is mighty…He will joy over thee with singing”. Zeph 3:17
RUWA – (7321) to shout; to split the ears with sound; to blow an alarm (associated with trumpets).
“Shout unto G-d with the voice of triumph”. PS. 47:1
“Shout in triumph, O Israel”. Zep. 3:14
“All the people shall shout with a great shout and the wall of the city will fall down flat”. Josh. 6:5
SHABACH – (7623) to praise, to address in a loud voice, as in triumph.
“My lips shall praise Thee”. Ps. 63:3
“Praise (“halal” the L-rd, all nations;) praise Him all peoples”! Ps. 117:1
If we want to be a people after Gods heart, like David was a man after Gods heart we need to give our everything in prayer and worship, to turn our hearts 100% towards Him as in 2 Chron 16:9 (“whose hearts are perfect towards Him”) Then we really need to allow for freedom in worship, we need to celebrate foolishly and clamorously.
As I see it, to create an atmosphere of freedom we need to first create a loud clamorous atmosphere, only in that atmosphere are you truly free to choose to be silent. Only in the presence of the extreme is it freedom to choose the normal. Only when its loud is it freedom to choose silence, only in the presence of movement is it freedom to choose to stand still. Because we as humans will not shout out in fear of breaking the silence, we will not dance in fear of breaking the stillness.
Lets create an atmosphere where true freedom is possible, lets be pioneers and worship God with our spirit, body and soul. Holding nothing back but giving God our best, our loudest, our most intense expression of what we feel only then will we be so totally overwhelmed by Gods presence and Holyness that we simply cannot spek or move but must bow down in silence to His Majesty!