Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Worshipping Church

Imagine sitting in a filled auditorium with a six thousand person capacity. Now imagine the sound of the flipping pages of hymnals mingled with groans as thousands of college students and faculty prepare to sing “There’s Honey in the Rock My Brother;” or the snickers that flicker here and there as you recognize the prelude to the ensemble’s special music number, “One More Night With the Stinkin’ Frogs.” And then there was the unforgettable three page hymn with notes ranging from the highest to the lowest that you were sure to sing at least two times a semester. I actually had it down to a science and could predict which Sunday we would sing it. Is it possible for a church to hold such high standards of musical talent that they much prefer hearing themselves sing than worship? That is what I wondered as I neared the end of my time at a certain Christian college in Pensacola, Florida.

In contrast, imagine how refreshed I felt returning to my home in Germany as I worshipped with my international brothers and sisters in Christ during Winter and Summer breaks. What a joy it is standing in the midst of representatives of all corners of the earth together worshipping our Holy Father. Were they examples of musical excellence like the Campus Church required? No. But as Buyong from Indonesia pounded on his drum, as Sarah from Kenya plucked away at the bass, as Sholah from Ethiopia sang praise to God, as Phillip and Sarah, both from Germany, worshipped on the guitar and piano, and as Mag from Malaysia raised her sweet voice leading the congregation in glorifying God, one had a true sense of being in the midst of the throne room of the Holy One. As one, the body of Christ would kneel, presenting themselves before the King of kings; their hearts eager to embrace the message God had for them that day. As Scripture was read, the reader would begin by proclaiming, “Hear the Word of the King!” and the congregation would respond to the Word by saying, “Thanks be to the King!” The fellowship among these brothers and sisters is like none other. While so many of their family members are oceans away, this small church understood what it meant to be a member of the family of God. The study of the Scriptures was a vital aspect of church life. It was there that my father expounded on the meat of God’s Word to these believers, revealing truths that they had never been taught before. Many have come to Hannover International Bible Church as mere babes in Christ, but they return to their home countries as leaders of the faith.

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