Wait! Before you listen to the video, please listen to this. I’m taking a musical interlude from Acts, because my soul is dry.
As you may know, almost two years ago now illness drove me to retire from pastoring. With our worship team, I had often led the church to sing in the presence of the Lord. Those are carefully chosen words. I viewed the music part of our worship as entering into the Lord’s presence with singing.
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise”
God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Son, was actually among us as we sang. And many times we felt him there.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them”
(Jesus, Matthew 18:20).
We tried never to sing as if we were having a spiritual sing-along. Nor as if we were only making a doctrinal proclamation together. We always knew, of course, that our Lord was in heaven; but we believed that by the Spirit he was also in the sanctuary of our gathering. So we sang songs of worship and praise about him and to him, but always with the sense that we were coming before him.
Often, after our last song, a “holy hush” settled over us, and we became still, awed by his presence. We waited. Sometimes one or more of us would spontaneously pray. Other times we simply remained silent “on holy ground.” How often I felt like the disciples with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration! It was good; I wanted to stay!
My illness has mostly kept me from corporate worship the last several months. I miss it. Not just Christians singing together, but singing together entering into the Lord’s presence, aware of his nearness, awed by his closeness. Without it, my soul has been shriveling. I hasten to add that God is in the preached Word, of course. Nothing can replace that. But he is also in the song.
I love most hymns for their theological richness. This old guy can even get into many contemporary Christian songs. (I just can’t bounce up and down!) But with both, I need those simple worship choruses that free me from many words to focus more on Jesus. I miss that. My soul needs that.
So late yesterday I came across the video above, a beautiful hymn we used to sing in corporate worship. I didn’t sing along with it yesterday. Just sat with tears streaming down my face. And was caught up in the holy, refreshing, beautiful, encouraging presence of the Lord. He was in the song. I invite you to find him there too.