Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing God’s praise in the assembly of the faithful!
Let Israel celebrate its maker;
let Zion’s children rejoice in their king!
Let them praise God’s name with dance;
let them sing God’s praise with the drum and lyre!
I often feel more worshipful at a wedding than I do at a church gathering.
The dancing, the laughter, the sheer joy that exists in that environment. There’s almost the sense of God’s celebratory joy overwhelming the place when everyone hits the dance floor.
I’m not a big Chris Tomlin fan, but I can’t help but think of these words from his song:
I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God’s great dance floor
And then for some reason, when I’m at my church gathering, I don’t celebrate. I look around me, and I see few people celebrating. It’s as though people have been lulled into near mundanity.
I almost want to stand up and shout, “The universe’s Creator and King LOVES US. He died for us, but now he LIVES AND REIGNS VICTORIOUSLY! Let’s sing! Let’s dance! We have LIFE!”
And I wonder if that’s on us. Maybe, as leaders, we need to change the culture a little.
I live and work in New Jersey. We wear our cynicism like a badge of honor and proudly display it wherever we go. But as Christians, we have an incredible joy that should spill out into everything that we do—especially our corporate worship response!
In many cases I think we’ve allowed our cynicism to infiltrate our worship. It could be our cynicism, it could be our pride, or it could be our unwillingness to be vulnerable. It could even be a combination of all three. I used to think (read: come up with the excuse) that this lack of expressiveness in worship response is an attempt at contextualization, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I was closing off a part of my heart when I sing words like, “Jesus Christ, you are my one desire. Lord, hear my only cry—to know you all my life,” and keep my hands in my pockets.
Yes, the area to the left of the Hudson River is known for its disenchantment, but I believe that as Christians, we shouldn’t be giving in to any of that. God himself rejoices over his people.
The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.
~ Zephaniah 3:17 GWT
The Hebrew phrase translated “he happily rejoices over you. . . and celebrates” looks like this: יָגִ֥יל The word celebrate here literally means, “to spin around under the influence of violent emotion.” God is dancing over us!
So if that’s how God feels about us, shouldn’t we at least try to respond to him similarly?
I went to visit my brother’s church, and—say what you will about churches with 10,000+ attendees—there’s a celebratory atmosphere there that is pretty rare in churches. Here’s a video of my brother leading his congregation in one of my favorite new celebration worship songs.