It's taken me almost two weeks to be able to write about this, but I think I can finally talk about it. Part of the delay is simply time. I am crazy busy - as usual. But part of it has also been just not knowing what to say. But here goes.
I lead worship for a group called Torch, a bunch of 20somethings and college folks who are chasing Jesus with everything they've got on their best days, and still trying to on their less-than-great days. A couple weeks ago we did this thing we call "Sacred Space" - and I have to be honest with you - I poured my heart and soul into the planning and prep process for this thing, and totally expected it to flop. It was a night designed to help people encounter God is some creative but unusual ways - well, unusual in that you don't get to do this all the time on Sunday mornings. Or Monday nights. We're usually pretty status quo - 5-6 songs up front and a message, break up into small groups and talk about it. Or for the sake of diversity and mixing things up, we'll have the message first and respond in song.
This was different. This was as out-of-the-box as we've ever gotten. And God totally blew me away by what He did with our willingness to pull this off.
We started off the night with dinner - this is normal for our end-of-the-month meeting. Potluck, out in the yard because it was gorgeous summer weather. We started the service portion of our night late (of course) because everyone was having a great time at dinner. We kicked off with a few songs and then Chris got up to sort of introduce the night and the concept of Sacred Space, and he knocked it out of the park - talked a lot about multiple intelligences and how they can function in worship - and then we were off, to what had been planned as 20 minutes of worship engagement at 8 different stations - but turned into an hour or more....
We designed it around the A.C.T.S. model of prayer - adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication - 2 stations for each of them. There was everything from watercolor painting to a miniature wailing wall to a techno praise dance room - and it was INCREDIBLE. When Chris first suggested the dance room down the hall, I thought, "you've got to be kidding me, who would actually do that?" But in the interest of not being a control freak and allowing others creative input into this thing, I said, "okay, go for it." And I have to tell you - 45 minutes into the night, when I'd gone to the wall and posted my praises, when I'd spent time in silence listening to beautiful music and reflecting on Scripture, and when I'd left my burdens at God's feet in confession and supplication - I found myself (self-proclaimed wall-flower) whirling to music I would rarely choose to listen to, in a room full of flashing lights and colors, in front of my friends, and worshiping harder and more freely than I have in a long time. And my experience was repeated in so many ways for so many people there... we found ourselves worshiping in ways we never knew we could as we paused and allowed God's Spirit to lead us. And it blew me away.
One of the best parts of a night like this for me (this is the 4th one I've done over the past 4 years) is seeing how God has worked throughout the night. Getting to read the prayer requests posted on our wailing wall and seeing the honesty with which people came to Him was tremendous. Seeing the paintings produced by our community was amazing - we have some very talented artists hiding in our midst! And for a group that's usually wrapped up by 9:00pm and headed out to dinner or something to still be worshiping with abandon at 10:30pm (our band was losing voices and breaking strings by the time we wrapped up) - well, that says something. It was an awesome night - and while I knew we were called to do it, I didn't really believe God would use it in so many ways. I stand majorly corrected - and majorly humbled by the fact that God would use me to facilitate an event like this. It was pretty cool. (understatement, that.) And for the first time in awhile I am starting to believe that maybe this pipe dream I have of being able to help people find ways other than music in which to encounter God might actually be God's dream for my life and not just something I wished for.