Every few years a major party dance song comes out. What makes it major? The steps are simple, repeated often, and almost always told in the lyrics of the song.
Examples: Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Macarena, Dougie, Stanky Legg, Cat Daddy, Wabble, Soulja Boy, etc.
These songs take pop culture by storm. Folks ranging from 8yrs old to 35 seem to know the steps, and everyone dances to these songs at weddings, graduation parties, sleepovers, etc.
Somehow everyone seems to know what to do!
And everyone also appears to be loving it!
There is a thrill and an excitement for everyone to be part of this unified whole known as the dance floor. Every individual has joined the corporate whole; and the more the merrier. Somehow the individual identity slowly fades away as each step is learned; and then as confidence is gained, that identity becomes richer and bolder. They aren’t just an unidentifiable person anymore. No, they are now a brushstroke in a masterpiece.
People hunger and thirst for this experience.
I won’t take time to explain why, but just redirect you towards the paragraph description of the event.
Contrast this to a typical WASP church experience.
Individuals gather together (in either the contemporary or traditional service), fumble through a couple songs that half of the people know… and keep somber faces with an occasional hand raised in praise.
And the faces that aren’t somber are those that know the words to the song. It doesn’t matter if it is a traditional hymn or a modern chorus.
The gathering of believers should be a time of corporate repentance, confession, and rejoicing, yet “worship wars” rage across the nation. Instead of individuals losing their autonomy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomy) and becoming a healthy body (Rom. 12; I Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4), there is grumbling and frustration.
This post is not a statement about which side of the “worship war” aisle I fall. Nor is this post an answer to any question. Rather, it is mostly to ask you this simple question.
What does it mean to rejoice?
And this question has been nagging in my mind ever since being at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. (Spot 3 ironies in this picture and post them in the comment section.)
It was simultaneously the most joyful and sorrowful terra sacra (Latin: sacred ground) I have witnessed in my travels. There was an elderly man literally praying his heart out (i.e. WAILING; James 5:7-21?), and his prayers were occasionally overpowered by the sound of the Bar Mitzvah’s joyful Hava Nagila (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcLrzHhsQew ; not my recording).
And as I have had this question going through my head for a week now, I have also been reading the Psalms of Ascent. This morning I read Psalm 126 (which also means 126 days until I get married!!!!!!), and the first verse is speaking about the joy of returning from exile.
I have nothing to compare 70 years of wondering “how long, O Lord?” or 70 years of taunting “Play me a song of Zion (Psalm 137).
But I do have the knowledge that I have been saved from the death of my “transgressions and sins, in which [I] used to live when [I] followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:1b-3)
And I do know that I have the promise of seeing Jesus face to face (1 John 3:1-3). I also have promise of being conformed to his image and likeness (Rom. 8:28-30; 1 John 3:1-3).
And I also have the promise of my lovely bride to be.
But do I know how to rejoice?
Maybe I do, maybe I do not. But my hope and expectation is that I will grow in my love for God and my love for others each and every day. And as I grow, I pray that my capacity for rejoicing in God’s wondrous provision and protection each and every day will grow (as well as my growth in knowing what confession and repentance looks like!).
Well, now that it is 7am, I think I will text my fiancé and see how she is doing down in Findlay, OH (aka at the meet where she set the school record in the pentathlon yesterday, and moved into the top 5 all-time high jumpers at Cornerstone University).