I enjoyed yesterday evening - the second of our main sessions as part of a training/refresher course for Worship Leaders. As I was flying solo for the evening and my material felt a little "bitty" I ensured we had lots of chat - and the group is a good one to chat with.
As we considered worship we thought of those moments in Scripture where there is a profound sense of encounter with the Living God. Nobody had much notice of this so there is no claim that this list is comprehensive or even the most relevant, but these were the moments that struck a chord with our participants. I suggested the first two as a starter, then let them see where we got to.
We started with Isaiah and his encounter with the holiness of God in chapter 6
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’
and so we considered how any meeting with God must involve some degree of sense of his holiness.
I had also offered Jeremiah's prayer from chapter 17
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved;
for you are my praise.
We may not have the sense of a healing presence in our worship every time, but it is component to bear in mind.
We thought about David and his men dancing as the Ark is brought back to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
although there is also a note (1 Chronicles 15) that this action did not meet with everybody's approval
As the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing; and she despised him in her heart.
Moses seems to have frequently experienced the sheer awesomeness of God, amongst many episodes is Exodus 19:19)
As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.
and he was joined by Miriam in celebrations involving tambourines (and more dancing) in a moment of celebration in thanks for God's rescuing the people (Exodus 15)
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’
Conversely, there is also the example of the boy Samuel's encounter with God at a time when 'the word of the Lord was rare in those days' in 1 Samuel 3, and hearing the voice of God (and finally understanding whose voice it was) says
‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
We were aware of the risk of familiarity for us - our worship is scheduled for a set time each week and we often feel aware of the sense of time ('I have to get back to put the spuds on').