It is freezing outside! When I opened my front door this morning at 5:30 a.m. the arctic blast almost took my breath away and froze one of my limbs. This week we are experiencing unprecedented cold temperatures. Yesterday the temperature in Washington, DC was 7 degrees with a wind chill factor that made it feel like 8 degrees below zero. It is so dangerously cold that the extreme weather made headline news. We are not the only region gripped by this arctic blast. CNN reports that temperatures this week plummeted below freezing somewhere in all 50 states. This cold weather is cruel indeed!
Scientists tell us that when it is cold, we experience impaired body function. Basically, it is difficult to move. Yet before our bodies begin to slow down, involuntary response mechanisms react. Our muscles begin to contract in an effort to produce body heat. So when we start to feel cold, we may begin to shiver, movements that are useless in themselves, but that generate heat and so help to warm us up. To protect us from the cold, God enables our bodies to keep moving.
We are all familiar with the saying “It’s a cold, cruel world.” Jesus knew that we would experience extreme difficulty in this world. Yet when He prayed, He did not pray to take us out of the world. Jesus prayed that we would know God and that this knowledge would protect us from the cruelty of the evil one. (Jn. 17: 3,15, 20-21). This intimacy with God is what we express in our worship. Despite difficulties, we have hope. Daily we can feel God’s grace and goodness. Therefore we offer our praise to God as a response to His presence.
The second form of praise outline in our Seven Forms of Praise list is:
Bible history confirms that the Israelites were expressive in their praise to God and engaged in various movements. They would stand, bow, prostrate themselves, dance, clap, kneel, and lift their hands (Neh. 8: 5-6). In Psalms 134:2; 141:2, David instructs us to lift our hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord as the evening sacrifice. David danced before the Lord (2 Sam. 6:14) as an offering of praise and he instructs us to clap our hands in praise (Ps. 47:1). These movements may seem useless in themselves, but when offered to God they give Him glory (Ps. 50:23).
God loves variety. Accordingly, the application of these praise movements are dependent on your church. Whether you use one or all of these movements, it is your act of praise that pleases God. Not everyone has to respond in an identical way for our praise movements to be acceptable. How we praise God differs from person to person and from congregation to congregation. Each week at Sligo, we engage in some of these movements. As our relationship with God deepens our responses will too. Like when it is cold outside, it is not how you move that matters; just keep moving.