Thank You, Letty!
The Body Builder
by Captain Terry Camsey –
Letty came to our corps last Sunday. She works in the Social Services Department (at Territorial Headquarters’ Lomita annex) but she came to sing to us. She has the voice of an angel…soaring and dipping as she shared her personal worship dialog with the Lord with us, too.
Christmas is a time for angels’ singing, isn’t it… “Glory in the highest and on earth peace…”
In fact, one of Letty’s songs moved me especially. I may not have the words entirely right but they pleaded for “Just a little bit of heaven here on earth.” It reminded me of something I heard Jack Hayford (composer/writer of “Majesty”) say once. He suggested that worship should be a taste of heaven here on earth and related it to the fervor of slaves who found that bit of heaven as they sang spirituals and worshiped God, singing their way into his presence as they entered the Kingdom.
Jack Hayford went on to suggest that when we enter church to worship we become citizens of that Kingdom and subject to its laws…leaving behind– even if only temporarily–the physical kingdom.
The thought has stuck with me for many years: this notion that going to church to worship should be an experience of heaven here on earth. We come not to perform and be applauded by our peers…not even to just sit and watch others worship. No, we are as children striving to please our father–the “audience of One” as Captain Leonard Ballantine once described it. The image is familiar to all of us who have, or have been, children. The seeking of approval from the father who co-created us. The striving to please him. Doesn’t that put an altogether different face on worship?
When I hear someone saying “I didn’t get anything out of that meeting” I’m very tempted to ask whether God got anything out of that person in the same gathering. Our pleasure is, surely, related to giving pleasure to the Father that we have just spent quality time with.
I remember one Christmas in particular when I was a child. It was towards the end of World War II and I would have been around eight or nine years of age. There was a camp for German prisoners of war close to my hometown. We’d see the prisoners from time to time…under guard and wearing a distinctive brown “battle-dress” uniform with colored circles all over it.
Two of those prisoners of war were Salvationists and were released on Sundays to come and worship with us at the corps. They were able and comfortable enough, if you can imagine, to worship in that setting with their captors, because the bond that held us together was greater even than patriotism towards our earthly countries.
One of the prisoners sang “Stille Nacht” one Christmas. Tears in his eyes, thoughts on home and his family. He was in his prison garb, certainly, but also united in worship with his distant family. It was, for us fellow worshippers, truly, just a little bit of heaven here on earth.
He sang in German. So what! They do that before heaven’s throne, too, don’t they?
“I looked and saw a vast throng, which no-one could count,
from every nation, of all tribes, peoples and languages, standing in front
of the throne, and before the Lamb…”
Revelation 7:9 NEB
… all singing in English…
I don’t think so! That picture of worship in heaven is of people of every nation, every tribe, every people standing before the throne worshiping in every language.
Lord, help us not to be culturally arrogant that we deny the uniqueness of your incredible creation and thus deny anyone “Just a little bit of heaven, here on earth.”