Does this sound familiar? A worship leader reads Scripture, and though he correctly pronounces every word, his tone is flat and his face is expressionless. Then the congregation sings a familiar song, singing each note with perfunctory precision. They listen to a sermon with a three-part outline, perhaps occasionally taking notes. True words are preached and spoken and sung. But everything seems geared for the heads of the worshipers, not their hearts and certainly not their bodies.
The worship of God’s people, after they had returned from Babylonian exile, was anything but a dry, cerebral exercise. Israel was exuberant both because they had received God’s salvation, and also because they had been authorized by God to clean house among their former oppressors. Israel rejoiced in the King—capital "K"—with the confidence that God would also work through an earthly—small "k"—king of His choosing. Humbled, without earthly resources, God’s worshipers acknowledged their utter dependence upon the Lord.
The worship of Israel sounds less like a university lecture and more like a party! Everyone gathered so that God’s name could be praised with dancing. The jangling of tambourine and harp resonated with God’s praise. Singing for joy, God’s people responded to His love and mercy with their whole beings.
Today, we are invited to worship God with our whole beings. While we may not be part of a congregation that worships with tambourines and harps and dance, we can still offer our bodies as instruments of praise. Sitting, we embody a humble posture before God. Standing, we rise to honor Him. Singing, we offer back the breath He first breathed into our lungs. With our bodies, with our entire beings, we worship God.
Apply the Word
This week, consider a bodily practice that is different from your own church tradition. If you’re part of a hand-raising body, drop to your knees in prayer. If you’re part of a more liturgical kneeling tradition, raise your arms to the Lord during your personal devotions. And if physical disability limits your movement, join God’s people who sung for joy on their beds!