Monday, October 19, 2009

Surprises in Worship

In case you missed it yesterday. . .

We were in the midst of our great boom-chuck medley, coming out of "I'm gonna sing, sing, sing" and going into "I'll Fly Away." During rehearsal, we had clearly worked out that, at this transition, I was to take the mandolin break. So I lept into my solo. . .and Holly kept on singing. And the congregation did, too. During my solo.

So. . .there I stood, concentrating on the fingerboard, working out the solo, all the while thinking "Now what do we do? Do they forget the solo? Will Duncan come back around and go into the instrumental section after the chorus? What's going on?"

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Duncan edging toward me. Was he trying to tell me something? Were we going to make a change on the fly? So I glanced at him (all the while still furiously playing "I'll Fly Away"), but couldn't make sense of what he was saying. I looked beyond him at Holly, wondering if maybe she and Duncan had decided to jump ahead with the song, or if she simply forgot in the moment, or if she just felt the people were ready to go on and so kept singing. . .but couldn't get a read on her.

I don't mind flexibility, you know. In fact, I think the best bands/worship teams are the ones that can communicate on the fly, and make changes as the moment needs. But this was my big mandolin solo. And my poor brain was trying too hard to process both the solo and the unexpected singing.

All that happened in the verse. We hit the chorus and I gave up, going back to playing rhythm, jumping in with the bgvs. . .and finally looked out at the congregation. It was a sea of white.

A few weeks ago we sang another gospel song - I think it was "When We All Get to Heaven." And everybody was hootin' and hollerin' and stompin' and clappin'. It reminded me of a day on choir tour, a stop in Houston, when the choir launched into "I'll Fly Away" and all the ladies in the congregation whipped out their hankies and started dancing and waving them in the air. It was a wonderful, fun, inspiring moment. It was pure joy.

So, sometime that morning a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had this dream that someday I'd be in a church where all the ladies would wave their hankies when the music started rockin' and the Spirit started movin'.

Apparently, somebody took that to heart. Somehow, unbeknownst to me, they handed out white napkins to everybody and told them to whip them out at "I'll Fly Away," waving them in the air. Which they all dutifully, and joyously, did.

Of course, I missed it, lost in my confusion over the missed mandolin break. At least, I missed that moment when they all came out. I didn't catch on until 30 seconds had passed.

But when I looked up, ready to dive into the chorus, there they all were, waving their 'hankies' and having a lot of fun in the moment. And worship was joyful and the singing was ecstatic and it was a moment nobody will forget.

The cool thing was, they did it through the rest of the medley. It wasn't just "well, we surprised Dan so let's put them away because we all look silly." Nope, they just kept waving and hootin' and stompin' and laughing and smiling and singing, all the way to the end.

Last week I challenged our church board with the thought that we need to have more fun. We need to laugh more. We ought to be marked by joy and excitement, not dreariness and too much seriousness.

But that's the problem with challenging people. They take you seriously, and you end up with a crowd waving napkins in worship.

And I was happy. And, if I may say so, I think God was pleased.

So to whoever came up with that crazy idea, and whoever implemented it, thanks. It meant a lot to me.


Wes Lathan said...

I was in the balcony for the service and it was something to see from that vantage point.
It’s interesting that the conversation is going on. I was struck when reading “The Story of Christianity – Justo Gonzalez” by the different mood of the early Christian communion.
“We are told in the book of Acts that from the very beginning the early church had the custom of gathering on the first day of the week for breaking of bread. The reason for gathering on the first day of the week was that this was the day of the resurrection of the Lord. Therefore, the main purpose of this service of worship was not to call the faithful to repentance, or to make them aware of the magnitude of their sins, but rather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the promises of which that resurrection was the seal. This is why Acts describes those gatherings as happy occasions: ‘they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God for having favor with all the people’ (Acts 2:46-47)”
The news we have is so overwhelmingly good that there is cause for dancing in the street. It’s nice to be reminded of that.
P.S. – Thanks for the recommendation on the Gonzalez book, I’m enjoying it immensely.

Gracie said...

Fabulous story! Mirth. Spontaneity. Delight. Surprise. Honor. Celebration. Love it.