While checking the web page of Marlin and Sally Vis, two missionaries in Jerusalem who are working for improving the understanding between Palestinians and Jews, I was moved by a web page entry in which Marlinâ€™s described a special experience of a worship service he attended. It was a three-hour installation service! Can you imagine?
In spite of the length of the worship, he reports about an unexpected outbreak of song begun by a Palestinian girl during the distribution of the Lordâ€™s Supper. She suddenly began to sing â€œWe Shall Overcomeâ€. Marlin found this outbreak of singing and the song itself a deeply moving experience. For him, it became the moment of actual worship; in other words, the moment where the holy and the mundane united making it a transformative experience.
He writes: â€œIâ€™m not one of those folks who views worship as something you feel or donâ€™t feel. Worship is not some fickle state of mind that you can get into whenever you feel the urge to connect with the mighty God of the Universe. No, worship is a state of being in which you enter the moment you put yourself in the right place and time. Worship can happen anywhere, thatâ€™s true enough, but worship best breaks out in a crowd or at least in the company of two or three like you who have gathered with the hope that the great God of Creation will show up as well. And God often does, I think â€¦whether or not we think it or feel it or even know it. The magic of worship is not in the coming of God, because God shows up at worship and often no one seems remotely aware that God is with us. When I heard the song, I was walking toward these two clergymen robed in jeweled splendor, and I just stopped, causing a series of rear-end collisions. I jerked my head around to the front of the huge church, and everyone around me followed suit. It was pure joy that I felt, joy and wonder and hope, too. I felt this wave of hope wash over me, and then over all of us together.â€
Marlinâ€™s words bring near to us the difficulties experienced in a region so on the edge, daily, with violence and shortage of patience and means for peaceful encounters. And yet, even in the midst of such complicated problems, there is still time for joy, worship, hope and transformative experiences.
A worship outbreakâ€”it almost sounds Pentecostal? But isnâ€™t that what took place with Jesusâ€™ disciples? They were moved and carried by the Spirit to give witness to their faith even though it was dangerous for them. And isnâ€™t that the Church of Jesus Christ after the Spirit has been poured out upon them?
A worship outbreakâ€”we all seek those moments; our world needs these moments that the voice of hope, love, comfortâ€¦.and peace would transform â€“ break out â€“ into the harsh realities the many people all over our world live with. That we all might lift our voices singing â€œWe Shall Overcomeâ€ tyranny, war, abuse, poverty, and all that ills us.
I hope for this worship outbreak, not that it would simply happen in our regularly scheduled worship hour, rather that it would happen in each and every group, committee, and activity that we do.