Friday, December 18, 2009

Imposed Reverence

I published this last year when I'd first started blogging, so most of you have not read it...

Last Christmas time we attended an eye-misting, heart-stirring Christmas musical performed by an all-church community choir and several instrumental groups.

Some of the music was classical, some traditional, and I sat amazed at the talent and creativity in our little town, stuck away in the middle of Eastern Illinois. “My heart rejoiced in God my Savior” as Mary said. I even got goose bumps from the sheer joy of knowing this God-become-man, and His eternal love for me. But, I left the church with its jewel toned stained glass windows less than elated.

Instead of my joy remaining and spilling into the coming days, I found myself disappointed, sad and angry. Why? Because some zealous soul got the idea that reverence equals silence. And printed in the bulletin for this heavenly music was a request to refrain from applause, either during or after the program. We, the audience had to bottle and cork our thanks and exultation as we stoically listened to the story of the God of eternity stripping off His robe of glory to become a man. I was tortured.

Praise was shooting out my ears, oozing out my eyeballs and dripping from my hands, but I was not allowed to express it. I felt like a frog at a sitting convention, or a jumping bean in a straightjacket. The magnificence of the music was squelched by the rule of silence.

I understand that when some people are moved by beauty and awe, they are silent. I have experienced that myself in the presence of God as I’ve prayed or worshipped my Lord and Master.

But to impose it on the entire audience because it is one person’s idea of reverence is criminal. I felt cheated out of the blessing of giving my whole self to the One I owe my whole self to. I needed to clap! I needed to shout “Hallelujah, Jesus is real!” “God is good!” to fully enter into worship (I did sneak in a few amen’s that only Kevin could hear, but that didn’t satisfy my ‘praise’ appetite). I needed to be allowed to express my gratitude to the Savior of my soul, who bought my life from Satan and freed me from hell. But, I was obedient to the pharisee who made the law, and later on, the rocks and I cried out in praise to Jesus.

Sadly, I will not return to this program this year. Not because the artists didn’t render a splendid job of glorifying God and His majesty. But because they were the only ones allowed to do so.

Do you worship loudly, silently, or a little of both?


  1. Oh, Jen! I can just picture you at that concert and I can only imagine how hard that would have been for your bubbly, lively, cheerful personality!! Since I've a very passionate personality, I need both kinds of worship--times where I can cry in grateful silence. And other times when I can rejoice with all my heart!

  2. I'm LOUD! When I think about the goodness of the Lord, and all He has done for me I just can't keep silent.

    Others melt away when I come into the presence of the Lord!

    Wonderful Savior!

  3. I move and groove a little. A frog in a straightjacket...I'm tellin' you...that one is going to stick.

    Have a great weekend!
    ~ Wendy

  4. I understand your frustration. People worship differently and I find it somewhat annoying that someone might try to put a cap on how the Spirit of God moves people.
    Applause is a harmless, benign form of praise.

  5. You are so sweet I can just se you turning ten shades of red! I do love to respond naturally and if that's with an applause I'd be sad to hold it back. I'm sure those men/women would have loved it.

  6. I sure understand this. It is sad to be kept from rejoicing, disturbing, really.

    Perhaps this year, though, they would let you all rejoice with them.

  7. It sounded entirely painful! Usually I end up crying after a good praise/prayer time. Maybe if you do go again, you can have a quiet cry as your release of thanks! :O)

  8. Thanks, you all. I'm happy to know I'm not alone in my need to out-praise the rocks for my King!

  9. I'm quiet in my expression, but that's me. I'd never impress reverence upon anyone; it's a personal choice, between one and God. I can almost understand such a request during a performance, if only for time's sake, but my goodness, what are you there for? There is such love and fellowship that comes from sharing expression and praise. It's a shame someone made the decision to keep that at bay, at the expense of joyous hearts.

    Merry Christmas, Jen.

  10. Wow, what a picture. I know that must have been hard.

    I love being around other kinds of worship--all kinds. There are so many and they are so beautiful. I myself am a quiet worshiper. I love to sing, but what I feel inside is so big and so full that I express it internally while clapping and singing. So while I don't dance, stand, or yell, I'm fine with those who do--as long as I'm not "made" to do that as well. It's not authentic worship for me, just as staying silent isn't authentic worship to you. What happens inside of me is the equivalent of the outside for everyone else.

  11. It depends. During a regular church service, I appreciate the quiet reverance. However, a special performance like that might make me want to burst into applause!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Oh, how I agree with you. I would have exploded. We heard a lovely choral performance recently - all about our marvelous Lord, and we were allowed to clap as loudly as we wished at the end. There were some carols. The words hit me so much. It was hard not to raise my hands during the singing. It would have been alright, but I didn't. Just let me say, I feel your pain. I do worship loudly and or occasion, quietly.

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  14. Hi Jen -

    I was thinking of the same example with the Pharisees and Jesus saying the rocks would cry out. Thankfully, we're free to worship quietly or however the Lord moves on our hearts.

    Susan :)

  15. How frustrating. Im a loud, arm waving worshiper. Cant do it any other way anymore. Love music and Jesus and cant hold it in.
    Merry Christmas J.

  16. Oh, both. Sometimes I'm glued to my chair and dare not move, other times I'm joyously full of action. :) So sad they restricted the audience.

  17. Jeanette:
    I understand your disappointment. But maybe the people in charge thought it best because the musicians were playing for the Lord.

  18. I'm mostly quiet in my expression of praise and worship but there are times when the joy bubbles out. :)

    In our church all aspects of the service contribute to the worship experience -- the prayers, hymns, scripture readings, sermon/meditation and the special music. A solo or choir anthem is never sung as a performance but as part of worship. We wouldn't normally applaud the reading of scripture or the preacher's sermon, so it doesn't seem any more appropriate to applaud the music. Special presentations such as you mention, however, would seem to be in a different category. While it's worshipful it's not presented as part of a formal worship service and I would think people should be free to respond however they are led. I can understand your frustration at being muzzled.

  19. Oh, my sweet Jen. I can't imagine how you must've felt.

    Whew. My worship style. As varied as my emotions!

    Tonight I sunk in shame, then leapt in gratitude as I heard the words to this song...

    Silent Night
    Sorrowful night
    A mother quakes at the sight
    Her Son, the child that she tended and fed
    Despised and forsaken, broken and dead
    Jesus Lord at thy Cross
    Jesus Lord at thy Cross

    Silent Night
    Violent Night
    Hung with the sinners
    Though blameless in life
    Glorious beams of thy holy grace
    Tears and blood streaming down from your face
    Jesus Lord at thy cross
    Jesus Lord at thy cross

    Silent Night
    Holy Night
    Son of God, Love’s pure light
    There in dying you win for us life
    The self-sacrificing, you pay for our choice
    It’s Finished, Lord at thy cross
    It’s Finished, Lord at thy cross

    A blessed Christmas, Jen!!

  20. you have a interesting blog
    God bless you

  21. I worship like they do in heaven. Loud and church is a little more quiet but they are getting there. I always think if we can jump up and down and shout for a team when they move a piece of a dead pig across dirt WHY OH WHY ARE YOU SITTING SO SILENT IN YOUR SEAT NOT SHOUTING GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!!! We just need to real the book of the Revelation to see it is noisy in heaven.

  22. I can just feel your frustration at not being able to express your joy. I wonder if the musicians were also feeling something was missing because the audience was restricted from participating in their joy?


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