I spotted him early on in the service.
He was just sitting there slumped back in his chair. Because of the distance between us, I couldn’t quite tell whether his eyes had completely rolled back into his head or if they might have actually been closed. In either case, it appeared that the robust worship going on around this young man must have sucked most of the oxygen out of the air. The resulting shortage obviously did not leave him an allotment sufficient to hold his head upright, let alone stand and sing with everyone else.
The bad news was that the young man was my son.
The good news was there would be a tremendous opportunity ahead on the drive home to deposit yet
Worship is active — the result of our encountering Christ, His gospel and His creation in the rhythms of life.
another pearl of wisdom with him. You know, the kind of pearl that all of my children coveted and would sit attentively and absorb earnestly, as if I were Ward Cleaver on the Leave It to Beaver show: “Gee, Dad, I never thought of it that way before! You’re right! Thank you!”
We laugh about it now, but something I said to him that day amidst all the dad-isms actually stuck with me maybe more than it stuck with him. In the middle of my stream of consciousness, I blurted, “You know, your response tells me a lot about how much you value something.”
We are going to see in our text in Luke this week the response of Simon Peter to Jesus’ absurd request to leave everything and follow Him. How intensely Peter listened, how clearly he accepted and how quickly and completely he followed. All that tells me some things about what he valued. His partners followed as well, but the text focuses on Peter and his lead.
In a way, he was a lead worshiper of Jesus.
During Advent, we talked about the reaction of the shepherds to the good news of Jesus’ birth. Their immediate and ongoing response was to give God glory, to shout praise, “glory to God in the highest, peace on earth…” They truly were lead worshipers.
Worship is more than a noun, a time slot in the week or a feeling. It is a noticeable response. Worship is active — more of an outcome than an event, per se. It is the result of our encountering Christ, His gospel and His creation in the rhythms of life. Whether in sickness and suffering, in joy and fellowship, in beauty and majesty, in serving and sacrifice, we can find life constantly informing us of Him. We have to pay attention to those rhythms to be informed. Our worship then becomes an outpouring, or an overflow.
When we gather together at Grace on Sundays, we extend our personal worship into corporate worship. It becomes a gathering of individual encounters; we’re submitted to one another but joined in community as we rejoin to bring Him glory. We are reminded and re-membered. Our worship together is this chance for us as a collective to take ourselves out of the center of our universe and fill that vacated space with the One who should rightfully occupy it. We are pointing a collective “He’s #1” finger to the Creator.
As a worship leader, I often tell others serving with me that we are “lead worshipers.” The term describes much more than those who help to create the space necessary for others to have a meaningful encounter. The musicians or speaker are simply part of the response. They are one of the “lead worshipers.”
In real terms, as we offer ourselves in worship individually and collectively, our voices are joined in union; we encourage one another as we simultaneously allow our God-informed lives to turn attention back to the Firstborn over all creation. My son may not have recognized his responsibility as a lead worshiper that morning, but in fairness, many of us — including myself — have been that guy in one form or another. I was honestly glad he was there.
In the same way, we need to be aware that worship is not just about us and our preferences. We are gathering together, and we each have a responsibility to the collective body to bring our informed worship.
Because YOU are our lead worshiper at Grace!