Monday, April 25, 2011

Mumford and Worship

(Photo Credit: Maria Vassett)

In these bodies, we will live.
In these bodies, we will die.
Where you invest your love,
You invest your life.
Awake my soul, awake my soul, awake my soul,
For you were made to meet your maker.
"Awake My Soul" - Mumford & Sons

I had the opportunity--due to a gracious youth pastor friend with a spare ticket--to see Mumford & Sons in concert as part of their Railroad Revival Tour. I later heard that there were an estimated 10,000 people filling the gravel parking lot between Ash and Farmer street in Tempe, not including the scores of observers on the streets, balconies, and roofs surrounding the concert area. If you suffer from claustrophobia, dislike loud music, or hate people entering your personal space, this was not the venue for you. If you enjoy talented musicians having a ridiculous amount of fun playing together and view the scores of people as beautiful strangers brought together by a shared love, then the experience could have even been described as...well...transcendent.

Imagine this: thousands of people giving up their time, energy, money, and comfort in order to gather and sing aloud, lifting their hands and dancing and laughing and cheering and celebrating. What does this describe? In a word, worship. All this on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.

People wrote via social networking sites that they were thankful to be "part of something," that "one of greatest experiences of my life" (granted, I'd estimate the average age of the RRT attendee to be around 22, so transcendent life experiences are likely limited in number). This was in stark contrast to sitting in the back row during one of our church's four Easter services yesterday morning. Of course, there were many who were pouring out their affections to the God who saves, lifting their hands in thanksgiving and adoration for the truth of the resurrection. The worship was powerful, centering on the truth of the gospel and the beauty of resurrection. Yet there were a substantial amount of folks just standing and listening, chatting with their neighbors, or even answering a cell phone call.

Of course, I suppose I can't expect every Sunday morning service to be like a Mumford & Sons concert. But can we agree that we as human beings are wired for worship, that we are capable of deep emotional responses that elicit actual movement and the authentic outpouring of thankfulness from our lips, that we should actually expect to encounter Christ in our communion and singing? The concert reminded me that people are longing for transcendence, that they strongly desire to tap into a spiritual reality that goes beyond their ordinary life experience. The truth of the gospel is that they can, through Jesus, enter into this reality and become citizens of a new kingdom. It's the best possible news. So when Christians can answer their cell phones or chat or yawn in the midst of a worship gathering on the day we celebrate the resurrection, it makes one wonder what they're really worshiping.

Where you invest your love, you invest your life. I don't know the spiritual beliefs behind the lyrics of Mumford & Sons, but I can recognize truth when I see it. Where am I investing my affections, my time, my energy, my finances? Who am I worshiping? Who am I inviting others to worship? Can anyone around me actually know who I'm worshiping based on my actions?

Awake my soul.

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