Sunday, 19 July 2015

A God-moment never to be forgotten

Picture courtesy of Heather DH (Burlington CRC)
This one's tough. Not because I don't know what to say...I don't know how to say it and give it the justice it deserves. (I'm also hesitant to label what I'm about to write as a 'God moment', because I think it limits God! God's complete omnipresence and omniscience is foundational to my Christian belief. However, I think most readers will understand what is meant by a God moment...so I'm sticking with it!)

What I witnessed at this past Wednesday's worship service was proof positive that the postmodern 'God is Dead Movement' is dead wrong. He is alive and he was present among the 47 youth who came to Burlington this past week on a Youth Unlimited SERVE mission trip. Through their personal testimonies, these teens, hailing from parts of the US Midwest and Ontario, confirmed God's faithfulness to his promise of sending his Holy Spirit to believers and to their children and to all who are far off (Acts 2:39). Picture many of the 47 teens singing loudly, clapping, and dancing to 'Days of Elijah'; doing a jig to the bridge 'There's no God like Jehovah'; followed by a soulful and equally moving 'When Peace like a River/It is Well with my Soul. The first written in 1994 and the second in 1876! Penned more than a century apart, these songs were used to praise and worship God by teens in 2015 - most of whom were born around Y2K!

I'm one of those guys who experienced my teenage years in the 1980's. If you happened to be a member of a Reformed, or another conservative, Protestant church at that time, then it was fairly typical to look at those who raised their hands in worship, or say 'AMEN' aloud, with a crooked brow and question their brand of Christianity. I don't know when and why it happened, but somehow raising arms and clapping hands in worship to God became unacceptable. Kneeling was also frowned upon...perhaps it smacked of too much 'Catholicity'. I'm afraid that in the zeal of our Protestant forefathers and mothers, they threw 'the baby out with the bathwater.' Makes me think what are we going to do in Heaven?

Music was sacrosanct - much like it is today. Apparently, the organ and the occasional trumpet and French horn were the only instruments allowed in the Holy of Holies. I think that's what the psalmist really meant when he said "Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings (guitars?) and flutes"! (Psalm 150:4) As a teen, the only acceptable Christian songs, that were not in a Christian hymnal, were Kum Bayah, We are One in the Spirit, and Michael Row Your Boat Ashore. We were cautioned to handle musicians such as Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith with care and a modicum of suspicion, while Christian metal bands like Stryper were scorned and condemned for being to AC/DC 'ish.

Today, it's usually the older songs that I learned as a child, or heard my parents sing, that speak in louder volumes and are more spiritually meaningful to me than the newer music - with a few exceptions. And, the conservative styles of worship that are loved by older and younger generations alike have both equally beautiful and God honouring elements. I can't emphasize the importance of quiet, reflective, and reverend worship enough. But, participating with these teens as they sang both old and new, praise and worship songs with equal enthusiasm and passion for our Lord brought me to silence. I couldn't sing. So, lifting my hands in praise and adoration, I could only pray and thank God for granting me the joy to watch and experience almost 50 youth singing and praising his name.

If only there was a kneeling bench!