We encounter situations where we need to adapt. This Covid season has given us many opportunities to adapt. A year ago, none of us would have considered mask wearing when we leave our homes. But we adapted. A few weeks ago our Governor made changes in mandates due to the rise in Covid cases here in Washington. One of those changes affected religious gatherings, was the mandate that there be no congregational singing. We could have one person on the platform singing, but that was all. Many many people grumbled, complained and felt discriminated against. However, our church leadership decided to submit to these rulings–not with mumblings and grumblings, but with faith. I can feel hackles rising in many as you read this, but please read on.
We need to remember worship is much more than singing. The focus of worship is to bring honor to the Lord. We are free to do it in many many ways. Raising hands, clapping, kneeling in His Presence, bringing an offering are all good ways to bring honor to our Great God. The first Sunday, I admit, was a bit unusual. But the presence of the Lord came. Pastor Michael Hurley (our lead pastor) set a great tone with his message. He left the submission choice up to each person, allowing us to follow God’s leading in each of our lives. He asked our worship director to pray about singing a prophetic song over the congregation at end of the service, based on Zephaniah 3:17. It was beautifully encouraging. God touched all who let go of the preconceived idea of what a worship service should look like. Each week there has been a prophetic song shared and it is wonderful.
God is using these temporary restrictions to release new freedoms and exploration on what it means to truly worship. The raising of hands has taken on new meaning. I have found myself focusing on the words of the songs that are being sung. Meditation and contemplation have deepened my love for the Lord. Quietly praying for those around me keeps me in touch with Him and them. I have, personally, begun to sing more out loud at my home and in my car on the way to church. Due to illness, when I haven’t been able to attend, the presence of the Lord overflows into my home via the online service.
We have discovered that God’s Spirit is not bound. He is free to move in our lives, even when we can’t do things as usual. I am sure these restrictions will be lifted soon and we will all be excited and blessed. But once again, God is using natural situations to teach and expand our thinking about what a real relationship with Him looks like. There are many in the body who physically can’t sing due to muteness or deafness. They have discovered how to worship in spite of those personal restrictions. Having these limitations has helped me better understand their situations.
I know other churches may ignore those restrictions and continue to sing and praise as normal. That is up to them and their conscience, no judgement. I am grateful that our church leaders chose to walk in faith in the midst of the restrictions, for it has been a learning experience for me. Romans 14:23 For whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. We choose not to sing in faith, not fear. We choose to submit to our leaders in faith, not fear. We choose to exercise our worship muscles in new ways, and that is good!
God is not bound, I am free to worship Him at any time with my voice raised high. And I do.