I wasn’t the only one who found they had a hoarse voice when our service ended over at Jubilee, London last Sunday. As part of our worship we had a run of African-style songs, and as we sang, we began to relax a little and get a bit excited about our Lord Jesus. At the end of the planned sequence of songs something happened that has never occurred before. Spontaneously, worshippers began crying out, “MORE! MORE!” It was an amazing moment, and as some of the leaders joined in the calls, our worship leaders ripped up the plan! We sang another African song, followed by “Shout to the Lord, All the Earth!“
As the song finished, I felt a prompting that shouting to the Lord was exactly what God wanted us to do at that moment. So, with a glance at one of our elders to check that they were happy for me to proceed, I headed to the front and said something close to the following:
“As we were worshipping just now, I felt it was almost as if I could see a cloud over us being blown way. It was as though that cloud had the words “the myth of Englishness” written in it. It isn’t just for the English, but also for those who have come here and live under it as well. It’s a reserve, and a fearfulness of speaking to others, of getting excited, and especially of shouting in church.” But it IS a myth! Have you ever seen the English at a football match or a rock concert!? God is driving it away from us.”
The people were still in an excitable mood as I was saying that. I went on to tell them that if they weren’t used to shouting in church, they had better get used to it because there is shouting in heaven. I told them I would read some words from Revelation, and that then after I finished we were to all shout out as loud as we could our praise to God. Which was exactly what we did. I am not sure if it was that shouting or all the vigorous singing, but by the end of the service my voice was ruined for a few minutes.
Here is the passage I read out:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory
— Revelation 19
There are perhaps a few things worth pointing out to put all this into context.
- I do believe that God is not deaf, so we don’t always have to shout. But I also believe he is not nervous either.
- Worship needs, at different times, to be vigorous and noisy, but also contemplative and quiet.
- While I do believe it’s right to refer to our singing together as worship, we also worship with our whole lives. That means the work you are meant to be doing for your employer right now is worship, too. (see Romans 12:1-2)
If you are interested in learning more about corporate worship, do feel free to attend the Worship School I mentioned yesterday.