So I started reading "Blue like Jazz" by Donald Miller again last night.
I was reading this about 6 months ago and I lost it amongst the piles of junk in my office.......I like the word amongst. It makes my mouth feel like it's accomplished something. That "g" followed by an "st" is not something you can do without putting some real work into it. ....Anyway, When I found it last night, I decided if I was really going to read it, I should probably start again from the beginning. I'm glad I did.
In case you haven't read it, it's a guy discussing Christianity from a non religious perspective. Basically he takes a look at being a Christian from the perspective of someone who hasn't grown up in church. Example....Have you ever considered that Noah's Ark is an awful story. Yes, it's the story of God saving his chosen man, and a bunch of animals. But really it's about God going.."That's it! I'm done with the rest of you. Let's see how long you can swim." I'd never really thought about it that way before. It's kinda funny that we consider it a good story for children and we even go as far as making it the theme for many nurserys. Come to think of it though, I don't think I've ever seen a wall border in a nursery displaying all the floating lifeless bodies. That part is often left out.
Anyway, while reading it again, I read story that Don tells from his childhood, when he first experienced real guilt due to the fact that as a child one Christmas he'd spent all his money on himself and didn't get his mother a good present. Instead he used what was left over to buy her some crappy book she'd never really want. He ends his tale of guilt by saying the following... " And while they ate and talked and chatted away another Christmas, I felt ashamed and wondered silently whether they knew they were eating with Hitler."
Some how that phrase seems to fit so well how I feel sometimes. After some internal debate, I'm going to make a confession to all of you. I feel guilty about the worship service that I led last night. (For anyone who doesn't know, I work part time at my church leading the music.) I purposefully picked songs that meant something to me, and avoided the normal hymns that we typically do on a Sunday evening. When I planned the service, I was tired of doing songs I didn't get anything out of just to keep everyone happy, so I thought it would be a good time to put together a service that I would enjoy.
As the service began, God spoke to me clearly, not in an audible voice, but through the expression on the faces of those who came to worship. He said to me "you've been selfish." I knew right away that those worship songs chosen were not going to assist anyone in having an experience with God. Instead, the majority of the congregation either stood their silently, or tried to sing a song that clearly meant nothing to them. It was like looking at a bunch of people who were at a funeral for someone they didn't know. They looked sad, but somehow not effected in any real way.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anything about style of songs (I'm sure they'll be future blogs about Contmeporary vs. Traditional worship) , I'm simply saying that the song choices were made based on what I wanted to do and nothing else. As a worship leader, I feel it is supposed to be my job to facilitate a worshipful experience, regardless of the style of music. I know you can't please everyone, but it's definately not right to try to please only myself.
Thankfully, God is forgiving and full of grace. He and I got everything straightened out last night. But, guilt is an awfully stong emotion. I think it's fair to say that "Last night I felt ashamed and wondered silently whether they knew they were being led in Worship by Hitler."