The song played on as I made my way down the aisle to my seat; Donna Summer, “She Works Hard for the Money.” Odd, I thought. Immediately my mind switched to critical mode as I sat listening and watching the movement of everything and everyone around me. I have been here before but, yet I returned. It felt like it was just yesterday when I was last here.
On my first visit the message that day was good. It gave me a lot to think about; however, before I exited the building my mind was ambushed by what came next. This is what happened.....
The speaker on the screen who delivered the message had ended. The screen had gone white and a lad walked on stage to give the benediction. As everyone prepared to exit, another song came blasting from the hidden speakers. "I CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL, NEVER HIT SO HARD IN LOVE.” I stood there motionless trying to decipher if what I was hearing was playing. I listened closely to hear the words again. What? This cannot be okay. Shucks, now I will have to find another sanctuary," I had thought to myself.
Yet here I am today at the same sanctuary again. As I sat there wondering why they’re playing the song "SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY” my eyes caught sight of a huge countdown clock staring right back at me. Countdown clocks can be scary. In my case, it meant to be prepared for the unexpected. The clock on the huge screen hit 9:30 AM. Just then the place went pitch black – nothing to see but darkness. Several phone lights came on. “I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid. Candles anyone; I need a candle? Who turned off the lights?” My mind continued to drift off into utter darkness, but I was suddenly pulled back by a strange loud sound. It’s a sound I wasn’t used to hearing well, not in this kind of setting. A dim light appeared on both sides of the stage beckoned for my attention. Two guys could be seen with guitars standing on scaffolds which sits on the construction site setting on each side of the stage.
The guy on the right hair blew in the wind that suddenly swept the stage out of nowhere. “School of rock?” I wondered. Like the prince in Shrek, he swayed his long hair as he strikes each cord on the guitar. Then it happened. Flickering party lights shoot out like a wrecking ball from every angle hitting me in the face. It was hard to see of focus; red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, green, you name it. Can anyone say NEON colors? I forced my eyes opened to try and see what was happening. Two young girls and two young boys ran unto the stage with microphones in their hands. They jumped and moved to the sound of the guitar strings. It was at that time I realized what was now happening; they are members of the praise team?” The lead singer began to jump and spin as the music played on with the others following to their own beat behind. Her skinny sculpture pelted out a song I've never heard before. This girl can sing and her voice is one to die for.
Then came a line in the song “His Love is Wild” where they screamed, jumped, stumped, span, and bobbed their heads. Dude, this is really wild and freaky, I thought. It was freaking me out. I was literally freaked out. I stood there confused! Where exactly am I, I wondered. I'm not used to this kind of setting nor have I been in this type of praise and worship before. “What do I do?” I thought when in robe do as the Romans do, yet I was uncomfortable. “How could I?” The lady standing beside me to the right clapped out of beat. “I should join in so as not to look out of place.” As I clapped out of beat and listened I waited for my body to finish communicating with my mind as to what action it would take. “Do I move my body like the others, do I continue to stand and clap awkwardly or should I sit down?” I stayed in the same spot motionless and confused. My eyes wandered the room as the music bang on. My mind drifted off to the movies where I've seen this familiar scene in rave clubs or heavy metal rock concert.
Out of place sums it all up for me. I was still unable to see clearly and constantly closing my eyes trying to protect them in this unfamiliar moment of worship. My skinny sculpture has been hit by the heavy sounds of the music. How long could I sustain it all? How can I concentrate to worship in all this? I closed my eyes as I tried to settle my thought and concentrate. It was difficult to do so I placed one finger in my right ear to lessen the sound still striking my bones.
I felt sad and out of place as the tears began to cloud my eyes. "Not today," I said and pulled myself together. "Is it me? Was I not connecting to the worship because I was immediately thrown into a judgmental state of mind. Was it because it's different from what I was used to seeing and hearing in such a setting?" I opted for the latter and tried to adjust myself to fit in. As I glanced around on the crowd, I saw very few actions, one or two clapping and another in the back dancing. They stood staring at the screen as if hit by krypton; zoned out. It looked rather like entertainment than worship as the people looked on. There were some smiling, few moving their body and one or two with their hands raised. One lady who stood on the far right on the bench before me wiped from her eyes what appeared to be tears, but it could be sweat running down. I could not be certain. Where are the hands raised and voice shouting worship? I could not feel the presence of the “Word.” Is this it; the new age worship? I asked myself as I still stood there with my hands clasped waiting on my mind and body to come to an agreement.
As the raving experience continued the singers ran off the stage and two people walked on. I thought they were changing singers. Wrong! It's the announcement speakers. It was quite an entertainment. They were gone soon, and the singers returned. This time I recognized the song from KLove Radio. My body was at last relaxed. I felt somewhat better. My body gave permission to sway to the sound of the song. I listened closely hoping to hear the mention of the name of Jesus seeing we were far into worship, but nothing. One of the singers began talking, then it came, the name of Jesus. My lungs breathed a relieve. Then a white curtain came down separating the singers from the congregation and then they were gone. Talk about a moment, that was it. Poof! They were gone.
Bam! What just hit me? Hello everyone, welcome. I looked up to see a lady on the white screen monitor who just punched me in the ears. She was filled with energy and excitement. She was LOUD. It felt like the wrestling announcer announcing the next fighters. Pastor Scott Williams! He then joined her on the stage to deliver the message. I was content and happy again. It's what I was waiting for; my familiar ground. He opened and read from an actual Bible and I felt an inner joy. As suddenly as the discomfort appeared it too suddenly disappeared.
The message was titled "Drop It" and it was awesome. Then it was over as it began, and everyone briskly exits for the next service to begin. The dismissal song came on…..glad I was heading home. I don't know what I experienced during worship or should I have joined in. What I know is that I was very uncomfortable because it was not something I was used to Oh well, despite the difference in worship, my prayer was answered because the Speaker spoke to my heart about getting out of my comfort zone. Drop it!