February 28, 2005

The Jugglers' Revenge

On Saturday, even as I typed the letters, words, and sentences, I feared that I was being too arrogant. My diatribe against churches that use what I would call "gimmicks" in worship was a little too pharisetical. (Yeah, pharisetical. It's a good word.) On Sunday, God showed me just that.

Lately, we've been having a lot of children in worship. There was a time not too long ago when my two sons were the only young children present. Not so anymore. On Sunday, we had about six or seven children ranging in age from 3 to 8. I greeted some of them before worship, and told them that, if they like, they could each take one of our tambourines and maracas and play them during the opening songs. They eagerly took them out of my hands.

At 10:30, I made my way to the front of our 122-year-old sanctuary and grabbed my guitar. The pianist took her place, and we began playing. After only two measures, I looked up and saw all the children processing up the center aisle, using not just their arms but their whole bodies to shake the tambourines and maracas I had given them, jumping up and down as they came forward. I had kind of assumed that they would simply play their instruments from where they were seated in the pews, but apparently they had other plans. When they reached the front, they climbed the steps to the little platform behind me, directly beneath the cross, and continued making music to God.

As the first song flowed into the second, I struggled to keep a steady rhythm. I could no longer hear the piano. I could no longer hear the congregation singing. I couldn't even hear my own singing, or the sound of the guitar I was playing. All I could hear was the music of a half dozen children, each one shaking his or her instrument to their own beat, in their own time.

I inched closer to the microphone, determined to be heard over the children. It may have just been my imagination, but as I did so, the children compensated by playing even louder. Still hearing nothing but the tambourines and maracas, I inched as close to the microphone as I could, but even as I did so, I couldn't help but smile.

I smiled because we had children excited about being in church. I smiled because, when I looked up, I saw the congregation smiling. I smiled because I realized that, despite what I had written on my blog the day before, we had our own little circus, right here in our small country church; and it was wonderful.

We made it through the second song; we had one song to go. I turned to the children and thanked them for playing along, and told them that if they wanted, they could return to their seats for the last song. Do you think they accepted the invitation? Of course not. They weren't going anywhere.

And so, even though song number three was more of a hymn than a praise song, the children led us through it, with their smiles, their energy, and their enthusiastic if uneven percussion. Not only that; they set the tone for the entire worship service that followed, and it was one of joy.

1 comment:

seeker of truth said...

Don't you just love how HE teaches us...What an amazing personal God huh??!!!