Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)
True confession time: you know those crazy college basketball fans that paint themselves from head to toe, go to games and yell their lungs out? I was one of those. I was good at it too. My friends and I had a little club called “Courtside Chaos.” We were there to change the outcome of the game, to give our team an advantage at home. We had dozens of organized strategies, for instance: if there was a big moment at the end of an important game where the opponent’s shot clock had 10 seconds on it, we would get the entire crowd counting down from 5 so that the opposing player rushed the shot. We heckled, we yelled, at one point I think we unhinged the mind of an opposing coach. As far as fans go my friends and I were all in, we were extreme, we went so far as to take pride in our extremeness.
Seahawks fans know what I’m talking about, as a group, they are the best in the country. The Seahawks have by far the biggest home field advantage in the NFL. Seahawks fans know how to sell out for their team, how to go all in
In Seattle it is culturally acceptable to cheer your guts out, in fact its not only acceptable, its preferred.
How many of you have ever felt weird in a worship setting? Because you felt like you were the only one singing? Because you felt like everyone else was singing and you weren’t? Because you didn’t know the words?
Truth is, even in our church its only marginally culturally acceptable to sing. You certainly wouldn’t think about doing anything crazy. No shouting, not cheering, no chanting. No one is showing up with their face painted.
I’m not dogging on sports fans, not at all. I just want to know why we’ve made it culturally acceptable to scream our voices out to cheer on a game, but we still feel awkward when we are asked to cheer the God of the universe.
I think it might be that we don’t have a sense of investment in what God has done or is doing. Sports fans feel like they have ownership in their teams, they are emotional stakeholders in the success or failure of whoever they are cheering for.
So I propose we swing the pendulum in our church back toward going a little crazy. I think that starts with acknowledging what God has done for us, what he has done for the world, and what he is doing in our midst. Once we start to put breath to those things we will find our voices growing a little bit louder. Our gathered worship is an opportunity to respond to the good gifts that God has granted us. The list of gifts, even for those of you who don’t feel like you’ve had many breaks in this life, is almost too long to list. But take a serious stab at listing it. Think about the incredible things that God has done for you. Then suit up and come to worship with a response that is proportional to what you have been given, if that is even possible.
God’s love is unrelenting, it endures forever, through every generation and circumstance. Jesus has given us life, so the only appropriate response is, well, life… all of it, all we are. Like Paul suggests in Romans 12 we bring ourselves to be a “living sacrifice.” Because with love like this, with a God like this, what else could you possibly bring but everything that you got.
See you at worship Sunday. Bring your “A” game.