Part 2: Passionate and Powerful Worship

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Blue Like Jazz, Dominican Republic, God's Presence, Holy Communion, Holy Spirit, Missions, Pastoral ministry, Wightman UMC

Church Service.001This is the second part of a series of blogs related to our mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  As I write these, I’m trying to process the amazing things I experienced as a part of this adventure for God.

One of the things that I’ve found, for me, in worship:  There’s a big difference between leading worship and worshipping.

Here’s what that means for me:  In a worship service, I’m often doing such things as facilitating what happens, keeping an eye on the clock and making sure that the moving pieces are moving.  That makes it difficult, sometimes, to simply let go of everything and connect to God through worship.

Maybe that’s why what happened at 10:30 in the morning at the Congregacion Cristiana Rey Eterno (translates to Eternal King Congregation) was an important moment for me.  I was there simply to worship.

There are all kinds of excuses I hear (and I can give) about why I can’t worship.  Excuses can range from things about preference (music, sermon style, type of worship) to environmental issues (too dark, too loud, too bright, too cold).

So, here we were, our group of 30 “missionaries” and we find ourselves sitting in a church in Santiago.  It’s not like the church that most of us come from.  The church building has a roof and open walls.  It sits next to a volleyball and basketball court and two sets of bleachers.

We sit in plastic chairs lined up to point to the front of the space.  There is a podium, a drum, a keyboard and a couple of speakers so we can hear the music.

There’s no air conditioning to turn up and down.  There are no lights to set and turn toward the stage.  In fact, there’s no raised stage at all.  As we sit there before the service begins we hear the sound of the barking dog walking across the athletic court and the sounds of the rosters crowing at the house beyond that. I don’t have a hymnbook in my hands and there are no words on the screen.

Yet, something amazing would happen in that worship time.

The service opened with a translator helping us to understand the Spanish.  But as the music begins, the interpreter’s job ends.

Awilda Rosario, the wife of the pastor and one the leaders in the church, joins with the others who are leading us in song.  The music is powerful, moving and Spirit-filled.  I am only able to pick out a few words that I understand in Spanish, but I know that they, and the others there, are singing their hearts out to God.

It stirs something in me in a connection to God.

I was sitting (and at this point) standing next to Steven Douglas, Wightman’s Youth Minister.  At some point, I said something to him along the lines of, “This must be a God thing because I’m starting to understand more and more of what we’re singing about.”

There’s a quote from Donald Miller that I love and it comes from his book, “Blue Like Jazz.”  He says, “Sometimes you have to see somebody else love something before you can love it yourself.”

In that day, I saw a group of people who passionately loved Jesus.  And that love of Jesus was able to powerfully break through all of the barriers that might have been in the room that day.  Seeing their love and their passion for Christ was like a dose of spiritual vitamins into my own love of Christ.

The love of Jesus transcends the limits of language.  The love of Jesus cuts through the fatigue that we might have experienced in getting to the Dominican Republic.  The love of Jesus reminded me that my family was much bigger than I could have ever imagined it would be.

There were powerful moments in the service.

One of those moments that brought tears to my eyes came when the musicians began to sing a Spanish-language version of “Revelation Song.”  From the opening notes of that song, many of us connected.  It became a mix of “Santo, Santo, Santo” and “Holy, holy, holy.”

Then, we had the chance to connect through the Table.  A speaker, in Spanish, related to us the events of what happened at the Last Supper.  Then, we were invited to come to the front to receive the communion elements.

We sat back down and held them in our hands as we were invited to share in the breaking of the bread and drinking from the cup.  Once again, my eyes were opened to the power of God to reach across all of the barriers that we might otherwise construct.

One of the leaders from our group of missionaries shared the message that day.  At the end of the service, Steven and I, along with the other adult leaders, were invited to stand in front of the church.  They prayed for us and for what we would be doing.  They asked for God’s blessing to be upon us. They welcomed us with open arms.

When we left the church that day, I felt a few things:

  • I felt overwhelmed.  Maybe that’s what comes when we feel as if we are truly pouring ourselves out in worship. I felt it physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • I felt lifted up.  There’s something about a strong spiritual moment with Jesus.  It recharges you and it pierces us to the heart.  I felt that way on that Sunday.
  • I knew in that moment that my mission for the week would be this church we were attending.  I know that I’ve been blessed in many ways and it gives me the opportunity to be a blessing to others.  Somehow, I just knew that this church was going to play a key role in my mission work for the next week.

On that Sunday in Santiago, I was reminded of a few things about worship:

  • Worship is bigger than any barrier we can create.
  • Worship is more powerful than the words that are being spoken or the lyrics that we are singing in the songs.
  • Worship connects people across the globe.
  • Worship is rooted in the powerful reminder of grace and mercy that come through Holy Communion.

And most of all, God reminded me of just how much I need and long for the chance to connect to the Holy Spirit through worship.  It was nothing short of a life-changing moment.

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Comments
  1. Beth says:

    It was an amazing experience. Thank you for putting this into words where many of us couldn’t find the words to express our thought and feelings.

  2. Dear pastor.
    Thanks for sharing your testimony. This strengthens our lives and fills us with great joy.

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