As we continue exploring the importance of unleashing our imaginations when it comes to helping people of all ages encounter Christ, it is important to realize that incorporating creativity into our worship isn’t some fad or gimmick. It’s based in the gift of the senses that God has given us, and we see how God uses these senses in how the Israelites are instructed to worship. We see all through the Bible that through God’s faithful servants, we are taught with words, but those words are often form beautiful and powerful images which provide a strong metaphor connecting a spiritual reality to a tangible earthly reality so that the message leads to a place of better understanding… OR sometimes they lead us to a place where one might not understand fully, but elicits a desire to dig deeper. A verse that I continually return to is Psalm 34:8, “Taste and See that the Lord is Good. Blessed are those who take refuge in him.” As we look to the Biblical text, we read how God SPOKE the earth into its shape and form. God is our creator, God spoke this earth into being. God’s words didn’t produce more words, but this glorious creation- which includes all of us – each created in God’s image. We are therefor co-creators with God. As we read the Gospel of John, Jesus is the WORD yes, but God’s word takes on FLESH and being. God didn’t just want us to hear words of God’s promise through the prophets, God wants us to know and experience this truth. Let’s look at examples from the Old and New Testaments of worship that took place in moments when words would simply not do justice as a way to respond to God’s Glory.
In 2 Samuel 6, we read of the journey of the Ark of the Covenant. Upon its arrival in Jerusalem in the tent that David had made for it, David was so moved by this pivotal moment that words would not do, the only praise that seemed enough at that moment was dancing. The ups and downs of all that it took for this moment to come were great and gut wrenching. David, who we know well though his Psalms is a man of many beautiful words of prayer and praise to the Lord. For David to be in a place where words are not enough speaks volumes of this time of worship that David experiences.
In Luke 7, we read the encounter of Jesus in the home of Simon, when a woman present comes to Jesus, kneels at his feet, and her tears fall to his feet. This moment is very sensual. She anoints the feet of Jesus with her tears, kisses, and perfume, wiping his feet with her hair. Others present wonder at Jesus’ allowance of a woman known as being “sinful” to come to him in such an intimate way. Jesus praises her for her faith, and tell her that her sins are forgiven. What was lacking from those who offered praise to Jesus simply in words, Jesus sees in this woman whose words are not recorded in this deeply personal and physical encounter. Her words were not what was important in this moment of worshipping Jesus. Her actions are what mattered most.
What other passages of the Bible stand out to you when you think about worship and learning that goes deeper than words?
What lessons about God are too hard to fully understand when we only use words to teach them?
When was a moment in your life that words were not enough to express our hearts to God?