Art heals. I truly believe that statement to be true. And among all forms of art, my favorite is music. Music transcends our inability to communicate our deepest emotions and it enables us to give meaning to the most various experiences in our lives. Music has been my refuge in a way. It’s my secret place when everything around me crumbles. It helps me keep myself together when I need to, it protects me from talking to people when I don’t want to, and most of all, it helps me express some of my most intimate thoughts, desires, and feelings. Throughout my life my most treasured memories have always had a soundtrack. Songs that reminded me of specific moments either because they were playing then or because their lyrics or melody just fit. And among all these memories is the first time I went to church.
I remember the small building, the rugged walls, the smells of wood from the benches, and the songs! I remember not understanding how those words that conveyed intimacy, love, and relationship could be applied to God since, to me, God was that authoritarian father figure who sits on a throne watching all of us down here. But boy, did I feel it! As each old-fashioned melody was played and each puzzling yet delightful word was sung, whatever was inside of my heart started to boil up and ended up being translated into tears. While for me as a shy cerebral 10-year-old those tears made no sense, I couldn’t help but realize that whatever I was feeling meant a genuine encounter with God himself. I didn’t fully understand why worship meant so much, but I knew I was being grasped by something greater than me and all I could do was surrender.
Of course, after the service I pretended nothing happened, but I suspect my eyes denounced me. Had I known then what I know now, instead of hiding I’d have encouraged everybody to give themselves freely to those melodies and lyrics that talked about a God who owned it all yet chose to clothe Himself in humility in order to become approachable to me and to you. Those old songs talked about a God that lived, felt, and is like me so that I could live, feel, and be like Him. And while worship means a hundred different things beyond music and lyrics, to me it still means what it meant on that first visit—a genuine and transformational encounter with God with practical implications that overflow from our hearts to how to interact with ourselves, our families, our communities, and ultimately, our world.
NT Wright says we become like what we worship. Now the question isn’t whether we worship something or someone, the question is what have we been worshiping? And I suppose the answer is easy, and probably somewhat painful. All we have to do to figure it out is take a good look at ourselves. Who we are tells us about who or what we worship and awareness of any need for change is the first step for actual and effective change. Brothers and sisters, as the new year begins, let us take this opportunity and the sense of renewed hope to give ourselves as a living sacrifice to the One who gave it all for us. That is indeed a resolution worth having. Happy 2018 and may our worship be intentional and wholesome!
Lici is a graduate student from Brazil. She is essentially an extrovert who's really bad at small talk. She serves at Skyline and loves all things blue, tasty and insightful.
If you missed this week's sermon, check it out here.