My choir has been doing a devotional called “Will You Worship?” by Ray Jones. It’s a great tool. Look into it. Anyway, the final day of our devotional was yesterday. Our worship leader planned a casual worship night to conclude the study. We had a worship leader from another church come, a choir from a different church (shown above), and watched the final video from the book. It was a great night of singing… worshiping… praising.
Let me back up a bit… I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that was very… um, stiff. There was no arm raising, swaying… nothing other than standing there, still while singing. Although not said (to me anyway), it was an unspoken rule that you just don’t do that. As I’ve become an adult, in a different church, it has taken me years to become comfortable in my own skin while singing. I say singing, because “worshipping” is a whole other ball game. I had to be ok with the eyes of the congregation on me while in the choir loft… trying to keep my mind off wondering if they were upset because I was swaying or clapping or just plain moving.
I have always wanted to go to a black church, just to experience their worship. I’ve never been… mostly because I’m scared that they will wonder what this white girl is doing in their church. (Although, I’m truly sure they wouldn’t care.) I have seen black choirs on TV and in movies and I am… well, jealous of how they can just let it go. They sing with such joy, such freedom, such life! I have always wanted that… to be a part of that.
My current church is making progress. Mind you, it’s never been “stiff,” but we definitely have a long way to go in the “free” category. I have grown in my relationship with Christ over the years. Now I am able to “worship.” I can sing while truly praising God for what He has done in me and just for who He is… period. It is hard to look out in the congregation and see stoic faces… some with looks of disgust because they don’t like the music choice… they don’t like that some of us are swaying or clapping… they don’t like that the guitar/drums are so loud. I wonder what the heck they are going to do in Heaven?!
Anyway, last night I had a fantastic opportunity to sing in my praise team with the choir (pictured above) singing behind us. At one point, I just turned around to face them while we were singing. I told them later that I did this because I could feel their energy behind me… I wanted “in” on it… I wanted to breathe in what they had… it was awesome. Some of them may have thought I was a little weird in the moment, but it didn’t stop them from praising God.
I guess that sometimes we have to be the change that we want to see. I think I try. I try to be free in my worship even if sometimes I’m doing it nearly alone. If I am singing, I am worshipping… with every part of me. I give it everything. I think some people aren’t a fan of that… but that’s not my problem.
As we were leaving the event last night, I gave hugs and told the group “thank you for sharing with us.” I was walking out the door and heard… “Sista………..Sista” I turned not knowing if someone was trying to get my attention… to find that she was. Side note… we white Baptist ladies may call each other “my Sister in Christ,” but not “Sista.” There was something so comfortable about how the word came out of her mouth. Like I was truly part of her… bonded, eternally. Inside I was stunned that she would consider me as her Sista. She asked me my name, I was still in a little shock and forgot to ask hers. She said something profound to me and as soon as I turned away I cried. She said… “what is in you comes out through you… just open your mouth… it comes out… you are filled with light and love and I see it in you.” For a complete stranger to say that… to see that… in me. Wow! All I could do was hug her before I turned and cried. I wish I would’ve gotten her name… I wish I would’ve shared how much the evening meant to me… Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity. If not… I’ll at least meet her again in Heaven.
My prayer is that we as choir members will give God all we have each time we sing. Don’t be afraid to clap… don’t be afraid to sway… don’t be afraid to lift your arms… or close your eyes. Don’t worry about the nay-sayers in the congregation… worry about giving God all that He deserves.
“I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Psalm 146:2