The only way to understand the Psalms is on your knees, the whole congregation praying (singing) the words of the Psalms with all its strength. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I love coffee.
I love strong coffee.
All of you who prefer a mug of two-thirds cream, I bring no judgment. I was you at one time. But these days I’m looking for coffee that mirrors motor oil and bites your lip when you take a sip (though to clarify: the taste has no resemblance to motor oil). I almost repent for how much I look forward to the coffee when my church community gathers. Our coffee is especially excellent (and strong). There’s even a Texas Pecan option. How very annoyingly Texan of us, I know.
The Morning Off
Since I’m a worship pastor it’s not so often that I have the opportunity to stand beside our people in worship. On a typical weekend, I’m holding a guitar and leading in worship upfront. However, a few weeks ago, I had the morning off from leading. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and made my way in to worship with my family alongside our community.
As we began to sing that day, I suddenly found myself standing with coffee in one hand and my iPhone in the other. It didn’t seem odd to me at first. Maybe I was so conditioned to having two hands on an instrument that the idea of holding onto something during worship wasn’t too strange.
But I soon noticed an older man during one of the songs drop to his knees. He didn’t make a big deal out of it. He didn’t holler or distract anyone. He dropped to his knees and raised his hands as he sang. All the while, his worship pastor (me) sat two rows behind him, hands occupied with coffee and a gadget. I was the professional worship leader guy and yet here was this man, an engineer I believe, leading me in worship. It wasn’t based on a set of rules or guidelines reserved for a particular time in the gathering. He encountered God as he worshiped with other believers — and so he responded.
Knelt Down, Hands Raised
The Psalms give us two reoccurring physical responses to God: Lift your hands and kneel down.
“Come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our maker!” (Psalm 95:6)
“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.” (Psalm 5:7)
“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:4)
“Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!” (Psalm 134:2)
Because of the cross, these invitations to worship are not part of a formula or ritual that grants us access to God. They become honest, outward expressions of an inward surrender to God.
As you gather this Sunday with the people of God, hopefully you greet one another in the name of Jesus, and perhaps even have a good cup of coffee. But more than that, hopefully you’ll celebrate the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the salvation that God has made yours by way of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Know that the Spirit of God is with you, that he speaks through God’s word, that he intercedes for you according to God’s will (Romans 8:27).
And whether you are a worship leader or an engineer, a teacher or businessman, a student or a nurse, let’s together put down the phones, and put down the coffee, and let’s press into God’s grace and be moved by it. Let’s be there to respond.