Where it all began

With growing boredom, I slump down into the hard pew and stare at the tiny pencils and prayer cards in front of me. I breathe out a silent sigh of frustration, knowing I will chance a dirty look from Mom if I let it out loud.  My sister sits next to me, slightly less fidgety than me. I try to pay attention to the words the man in front is saying, but they make no sense. Words like salvation and repentance mean nothing to my four-year-old brain.

Finally, he asks us to turn to page 294 in our hymnals. I jump up eagerly, knowing the service is drawing to a close. I stand on tiptoe next to my mother, and peer intently at the Methodist hymnal in her hand. The organ plays some long, loud tones and I look around, wondering what is coming next. Everyone around me begins singing in unison, and I listen in awe. All I can see are strange black lines and markings on the page before me. It’s like some strange code that everyone knows but me. I stare more intently, hoping that the unfamiliar markings will begin to make sense and I will be able to join in. No matter how hard I focus on the hymnal, it doesn’t become any clearer. I simply listen to the angelic voices around me. There is an awe that seems to fall upon the room. I look up at the faces as they sing. The women are smiling, as though at peace with the world.

Before I could read music or knew what salvation meant, I knew that there was a bit of mystery and reverence involved in worship. It was holy before I had a full understanding of the word. Though I couldn’t sing along to the hymns at that young age, I could sense the adoration in the room. I longed to be privy to the strange code so that I could join along in the singing.

It was special. It was not to be taken lightly.

Worship rarely has that sense of awe for me anymore. There’s no mystery; no reverence. I’m too flippant. I forget that I am bowing down before the God of heaven and earth and everything. It just turns into, “Hey God, thanks for all the stuff You do. You’re pretty cool.” Although I believe that God wants me to be comfortable and free in worshipping Him, He is still the God of power  and might; the God who would smite down the Israelites for disobeying. I would do well to remember that.


What’s your earliest memory of worship?

6 Replies to “Where it all began”

  1. Generally speaking, I remember there being something comfortable about the single piano playing worship tunes every Sunday and the repetitiveness of the songs played. It wasn’t all that interesting, and soon became boring. Really, it wasn’t until I discovered the phenomenon known as the worship band that I started enjoying praise and worship. The songs were more…unique. And I came to appreciate those quiet piano moments much more.

    Interested to see where this takes you. Good luck Jamie.

    1. I think I’ve taken that same course: comfort in simple worship, then boredom, then coming alive again with the worship band, and back to appreciation of simple worship.
      Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Sitting next to my grandmother and her very alto, breathy voice singing some hymn very loudly. The hymns have all run together now because this is where I sat for many years. Some hymns still bring back the echo of her alto voice, even though she’s been singing them around the throne for 18 years now.

Comments are closed.