Friday, March 25, 2005

I Get So Emotional…

I come from a tradition that tends to eschew emotional outbursts within the context of community (Churches of Christ). The worship tends to be fairly staid and lethargic, singing songs like “Amazing Grace” with a sense that it is neither amazing nor graceful.

As a result of this, as a junior in high school I started attending a charismatic church (that used to be a Church of Christ) where the worship was much more exuberant and you tended to leave the worship service on an emotional high, rather than feeling like you’d just buried your dog. This was a great experience for me, because I got to experience the joy and tears that I truly believe are a part of life as a human in a context of worship to God.

There was a negative side to this as well. If the songs didn’t strike me just so, or the leader didn’t do something I liked or approved of, or I didn’t get that emotional high that I’d come to expect, I felt like the worship wasn’t… really worship, I guess. If it didn’t satisfy me, it didn’t really make it to God.

I’ve been in this last place for a little while now. We are blessed at Otter Creek to have a worship ministry that is second to none. Brandon does a great job in trying to balance traditional and contemporary and trying to appeal to all sides. But for some reason, in the last three months or so, I’m just not feeling it.

I try not to be cynical about church and how we do it, but it’s hard. I hear things in the context of classes or sermons that I like, but there’s still this big question mark about the whole thing. I sometimes feel like I’m giving lip service to something. Like my heart really believes it, but it’s still trying to convince my head. And sometimes my body.

I believe God is there and I believe God deserves my worship and praise, simply for being who He is. I have experienced the grace of God in my life and I know that even though I feel somewhat distant and like I’m starting to intellectualize the experience of walking with Him, there is a mystical quality to it. (Does it sound like I’m trying to convince myself? I am, kind of.)

Worship is important and I look forward to those times when worship affects me emotionally again. But I’m also starting to realize that if I put too much importance on that 90 minutes on a Sunday morning and how that affects me, I’m creating a new law. I’m saying that if I don’t get emotionally moved by worship, then that worship wasn’t effective. That’s wrong. Worship is a part of all Christians, and not just on Sunday morning or when we’re in the church building. It’s how I treat my wife and daughter and how I tip my waitress or treat my neighbor or judge him.

This Sunday, this Easter, God will get my worship. And God willing, that Monday after Easter, He’ll get my worship. And the day after that and the day after that. I won’t always get emotional about it, but I will worship the Lord of Heaven and King of Creation with my life.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to sense once again that supernatural acceptance of who I am in Him.

Sorry for the ramble. It's just where I am on this Good Friday.

6 comments:

Tony Arnold said...

Like everything else in life, I believe our spiritual lives have ebbs and flows, highs and lows. Christianity is about how we handle each of these. During the lows, keeping our faith as a matter of practice despite emotional removal is important. My opinion, is that is OK to plod along during these times. Just don't turn away. We are human and we probably just can't stay in the spirit 100% of the time.

Father Matthew at Gethsemani said never stop talking to God and He will never abandon you.

C.S. Lewis writing from a devil's perspective in The Screwtape Letters said (paraphrasing from memory), "The battle is utterly lost when man looking around him says, my God, why have you forsaken me, and still obeys."

It is a good Friday and you are a good Christian.

Tony

Adam said...

excellent thoughts, my friend. So tell us, did you worship on Easter? If so, was it a matter of simply willing it, or were tehre other factors as well?
I want to know, because you seem to be going into the Easter worship experience with a great attitude, and I'd like to know the outcome.
AE

Phil said...

I did worship. I was able to experience community in the 6AM service on Sunday morning. I listened to Scripture from the OT read during Church of the Redeemer service Saturday night.

Sunday morning worship was great. I stood with other members of my family is witness of the power of resurrection we live with everyday.

I even headbanged to "A New Anointing." It was a good day

Brandon Scott said...

great post, brother!

Larry said...

Having forever attended Churches of Christ I know what you mean by "staid and lethargic" worship.

Worship to me is a daily event and not just something we head off to the building on Sunday morning to perform.

It's impossible to stay on an emotional high, so most of us are on an emotional roller-coaster just hoping we have more highs than lows.....:)

Enjoyed your candor, you only wrote what most of us experience.

Anonymous said...

Hey. I'm writing a book about the ethics of abusing emotion within a church setting. It's about rethining the way we as Evangelicals do outreach, especially for our young people. Can I quote your blog in my book? This is the part I wanted to borrow (omitting the "church of christ" part, as I don't intend to reflect on any particular denomination in a negative way):
..."I started attending a charismatic church (that used to be a Church of Christ) where the worship was much more exuberant and you tended to leave the worship service on an emotional high, rather than feeling like you’d just buried your dog. This was a great experience for me, because I got to experience the joy and tears that I truly believe are a part of life as a human in a context of worship to God.

There was a negative side to this as well. If the songs didn’t strike me just so, or the leader didn’t do something I liked or approved of, or I didn’t get that emotional high that I’d come to expect, I felt like the worship wasn’t… really worship, I guess. If it didn’t satisfy me, it didn’t really make it to God."...

My e-mail is christopher.peters@okbu.edu - Please let me know if quoting you is ok.

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