Last night a friend sent a text: “Thinking about going to your church this eve. I’ll go if you go?”
I never go to the evening service, because we have young children. Our service is on Sunday mornings, early, and very kid-friendly. It was a bit of a big deal to drop everything and go, but I did it. I packed my baby in her ski suit, said goodnight to my other kids, said thank you to my husband and left. For an hour, my baby and I traveled through the twilight. The tram was full of concert goers and teens with energy drinks, a crowd I never see any more in my working hours. My kid was a bit bewildered by it all, but I was curious. I figured there was a good reason for us to go, or my friend would not have asked.
The talk at church was about worship. The message that the speaker wanted us to take home, if at all, was the notion that “there is always more.” The discussion started with our own definitions of worship, and then moved into metaphors. Worship is like flight, the speaker said. An airplane takes off, levels into airspace and lands again. As do we, in worship.
It was at that point that the speaker began to lose me.
It seemed there was a science to worship – that church leaders had sat around and developed a formula for tuning in to presence of the Lord. This was a formula that didn’t fit into my Sunday morning. Our service was built around small children who ran around the sanctuary, pulling on the altar tablecloth and asking if it was already time to have juice and cookies. It was not a place where I am tuned out of myself, my husband or my children to ascend into the presence of the Lord. That place was remote.
Then the speaker smiled and said, “There is always more.” She showed us a picture of a rocket ship soaring to a nebulous point in space labeled, “Engine cut-off.” This was the metaphor for Houses of Prayer, a world of worship I never even knew existed.
I started to get a little irritated, and the people in the pictures of the Houses of Prayer started to look a little crazy.
Then someone raised his hand and asked a question. “Why do we have to do all of this to get into the presence of God? Isn’t God here, now, all around?”
Yes, I thought, as I nursed my baby. My work is to care for four young children all hours of the day and all hours of the night. If God is not here, now, all around, then I am angry. If I have to jump through all those hoops and airspace to get to a place where God is, then forget it.
Another answered, “God is always here. It’s about when you tune into God. Worship is a way to do that.”
Then the speaker said: “And tuning in could be toward the ‘still, small voice within,’ as much as it could be toward the ‘thundering harps’ from above.”
That’s it, I thought, the ‘still, small voice!’ Because worship could only be about one thing right now: an act of obedience.
In this phase of my life, all I can manage to do is to obey the voice within. It is a voice so quiet, it is nearly drowned out by the constant clamor of young children. But the voice says –
Look. Your son is kind to his sister.
Stop. You’re asking too much of your daughter.
Wow. Aren’t you glad to be married to this guy?
No, you have no reason to fear.
Yes, there is food for dinner.
It’s almost five. Get out of bed and write.
There is always more. But in this phase of my life, worship is about tuning in to the little voice. It is about the acknowledgement of blessings and lessons. It is about the recognition of the things I have, and trust for the things I do not. Above all, it is about control.
Like the formula says, worship is about the diminishment and replacement of self with the awareness of God. We have to let go of control to reach this place. It’s the same with obedience of the little voice. I can worship all day long, while putting food on the table, while mopping spilled milk, while biking to pick the kids up from school – if I can submit to God’s quiet, constant presence. What a gift to relinquish control – of the kids, of the clock, of our needs.
Once I am tuned in and listening, the things I hear make me humbled and grateful.
I am in worship.
© 2014 Anastasia Hacopian