I’m that Guy
Yes, I’m that guy. The guy that sometimes looks around at the rest of the congregation while we sing during the church’s worship service. Sometimes I worry that it might be awkward for some. Sometimes it’s awkward for me. I do it anyways.
Sure, there’s times when I close my eyes or even look up. If I am unfamiliar with a song, I’ll look at the words projected on the screen. Of course, I scan the words coming up so that I’m not glued to the screen. Most of the time I’m moving. It’s very un-Baptist of me, but I’ve never been a very good Baptist. I’m a much better Presbyterian—except for the moving around while singing thing again. And the infant baptism thing. Every once in a while, I even tear up. Sometimes it’s because of an unspeakable joy. A lot of times it’s because I’m convicted by the song. But I digress. I look around.
A Worship Community
Well, ultimately, it’s because we’re a community. A community that worships. And I like to engage the community I’m in while we worship together. I’m interested in seeing how people worship. There’s a lot of diversity with that regard at the church I attend. Some people raise their hands, some are dancing— subtly, and with poor rhythm just like me—some are more stoic. There’s a lot of smiling. There’s also conviction. It’s funny how much you can observe while the church sings. Worship is an embodied act (you saw that coming if you’ve read this blog at all). It’s emotional, which frightens a lot of people because they are worried about emotionalism. But there’s a big difference between emotion and emotionalism. Our emotions affect our physical bodies (and vice-versa), and show through our expressions, our postures, our standing still, and our dancing. I look because it’s encouraging to see people worshipping. People who are very much like me, but also those people who are very much unlike me.
But I look around primarily because I’m singing to you. I figure that if I’m singing to you, I should at least address you at some point. I would find it difficult to trust someone who is sharing the gospel with me, but couldn’t even look me in the eye. And I am singing the gospel to you.
But this is worship, right? Shouldn’t I be singing to God? Of course. The triune God is always the primary audience of our worship—but that doesn’t change the fact that you are an audience, too. Paul wrote this in the letter to the Colossians:
3:16Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Trinitarian Worship; Communal Encouragement
So our worship is fully trinitarian: the message of Christ…from the Spirit…to God. God is the recipient of our worship. But in so worshipping God, we are also teaching and admonishing one another with the message of Christ (a funny way of saying “the gospel”). Now, there’s a lot of reasons to sing to God with gratitude. There’s thankfulness for his mercy and grace, salvation, 75° and sunny weather, coffee… The list could go on, really. But one of the things that I’m thankful for is you. You in the plural. The church community. And when I look around and see you worshipping, it encourages me. It makes me thankful. So thank you.
And I know that it might be awkward to some of you, but I’m not going to stop. I think the very least I can do if I’m going to teach you and admonish you is look you in the eye while I do it.
I’m not the Only One
The funny thing is that when I’m looking around, sometimes I see other people doing the same thing. And sometimes I find that we’re actually looking at one another—and its never as awkward as I’m afraid it might be. In fact, it’s kind of nice to have someone look me in the eye as they teach and admonish me with the gospel. It’s encouraging. And it fills my heart with gratitude towards God—thankful that out of his mercy he has saved a wretch like me; thankful that he saved a wretch like you, too; thankful that you’ve brought me into your community and worship experience, even though we are at opposite sides of the sanctuary; and thankful that you have the courage to remind me of the gospel. I hope I can do the same for you.