I crept into the back row of our church’s sanctuary. Before I had a chance to slide into my seat, denim-clad musicians walked onto the stage. As if on cue, the parishioners jumped to their feet. The music minister strummed an electric guitar. A tattooed percussionist tapped on the drums, a blond vocalist belted out lyrics, and a pianist danced on the keys. The combined sound electrified the room transforming the space into a make-shift rock concert.
I swayed and belted out the lyrics. As a gift to my neighboring churchgoers, the pulsating sound drowned out my tone-deaf crooning. Most of the time, I stood transfixed to the music, engaged in the worship. But, I had moments where my eyes wandered around the room. The array of praise styles mirrored the vast diversity of the audience. Some people merely stared blankly at the screen; while others participated with the fervency of enthusiastic devotees.
I observed that many of the gray-haired congregants silently retreated when the music began. I remember my Dad explaining why his generation shrank with the boisterous sound. “It’s just not our style,” my Dad explained. “The music is just way too loud.” From the body language of his generational peers, I gauged many other seniors shared his sentiments.
However, one gray-haired woman nearby danced like a teenager. She waved, shimmied, wiggled, and applauded. Watching her, I had a glimpse of what worship must look like in heaven where inhibitions and bashfulness have no place.
Did she like this style of music? I questioned internally. Wouldn’t she rather chant hymns with familiar lyrics and recognizable melodies? I speculated.
But the woman didn’t look conflicted or agitated, just joyful.
I wanted to probe the woman about her worship, but she slipped out of the service before we had a chance to talk. Instead, I mused over her actions and conjured up a conclusion. I imagined this woman found worship to be more about the creator of the music, than the style of the song. She treated worship like, worship. And when one sings like that, the music doesn’t dictate the dance.