Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Sweet Sacrifice of Praise

Things I love about my church:

1) The poor sound system! It does not in
terfere with people worshiping God. The parishioners have a smile on their faces and I've never seen anyone with a bad attitude over its lack of quality. The parishioners make the most of what they have and worship God regardless of circumstances.

2) Song books copyrighted 1993 from Maranatha Music. Clearly, there is no obsession with "Keeping up with the Joneses" when it comes to music! A joyful noise is made to the Lord with no regard for the songs being sung at Willow Creek or Saddleback!

3) Four prayers in one service--some lasting ten minutes! I had forgotten what it was like to actually spend time in prayer during a church service! If you think I'm joking, pay attention to how many prayers are prayed during YOUR Sunday morning service AND time the length of the prayers. In the States, we are so consumed with ending the service by a certain time that there is "no time to pray."

4) Kids are HIGHLY involved in the service. They are in the front holding microphones helping to lead the singing, they are greeters, and they do special music. The concern seems not to be "How professionally can you do this but can you do this?"

5) In addition to our Maranatha praise music, we also sing four hymns--as written!! I have sung hymns that I haven't sung since I was in high school! We even sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" a couple of Sundays back. The timelessness of the words and the truth found in the hymns are like comfort food. Despite time and place, the words ring out true.

6) The special music is not polished and rehearsed to perfection. It is not found in the latest releases of Christian music. It may date back to 1945, 1965, or 1810 but it is sung from the heart and is chosen with the intent to encourage someone else in their faith.

7) And, last, but DEFINITELY not least, the potlucks (which, are called pot "faiths" at my church), are amazing. These quarterly potfaiths are anticipated with great expectations and much energy is put into them. They are also referred to as "fiestas." You cannot imagine the array of delicious food that is presented. Much pride is taken on the spread. The potfaith is proceeded by two hours (yes, you read that correctly) of singing. Several other churches are invited to join in the potfaith/fiesta as well. During the two hours of singing, in addition to special requests and sing-alongs, various individuals will get up and offer a song to God and the congregation. Sometimes they are sung in Chamorro but usually they are sung in English. Sometimes someone treats us to a number sung to the ukulele or the harmonica. Tragically, probably none of these musical offerings would pass muster in the States and, I am certain, we are the losers for it. There is something very beautiful and spiritually powerful in watching someone singing FOR the glory of God with FAR more emphasis placed on worshiping and sharing than on performing and perfection.

This last point, I especially resonate with. I am a "victim" of this Stateside mentality of performance and perfection. Although God has given me the gift of music, I feel immobilized to share it with an open heart because I am terrified that it will not be good enough. That it will be ridiculed or seen as insufficient. I wonder if I had been raised on Guam, if I too would be able to stand up, singing from my heart, singing freely with my thoughts solely on bringing glory to our precious Savior? Now, I watch with incredible longing those who stand before three and four congregations singing without knees knocking or hands shaking, oblivious to the performance aspect, but offering Jesus the sweet sacrifice of praise.

P.S. I also think it would be pretty difficult to beat this location. This is the view from the church's patio overlooking the built-up section of Guam where all the hotels are situated.

1 comment:

Debbie Jones said...

After reading about your "pot faiths" I could picture us worshiping God in the same fashion. How blessed you are to experience that now. love, Debbie