Like a moth enraptured by the light, I stood just on the edges of a circle of people hovering to listen. It seemed as though the sounds and words were woven together into a third dimension, as the musicians allowed their joy and assurance to bubble out through their music-making. Their skills good, but their hearts even brighter, they summoned me and others forth into the music. Into worship.
The first time this happened to me I was a music major in college. The musicians had learned music in a cobbled fashion, picking things up as they went from whomever they could. I had been given the streamlined education destined to shoot the straight and narrow into performance. But their music was wholly ragged, entirely captivating, and contagiously convicting. The difference was that they were not focused on playing beautiful music, rather, they focused on worshipping and beauty naturally flowed through it.
I looked for opportunities to be with them, to listen and learn because their confidence was so attractive. They were the first people I met who were utterly convinced that Jesus loved them, and loved us. I am sure they could not have kept silent even if they wanted to.
We most often speak of being convicted of sin, but these friends of mine lived convicted of love. Like sparks among dry wood, I and others caught the flame, becoming certain of love ourselves. I left my path to performance, in more ways than one, to live out these certainties.
Twenty years later, I picked up my tattered musical training and offered to use it to worship in Asia. I joined two leaders whose contagious conviction is that all are welcome, most especially, the children. I have never encountered two people more convinced of the powerful love of God poured out into welcoming children. They heartily embrace the belief that children are full-grown citizens in the kingdom of God, able despite their lack of experience, and powerful in their powerlessness. We, adults, are to welcome, bless, give opportunity, and encourage them.
Like my college friends, they invite and welcome all regardless of skill. Skill level does not dictate participation. Response to the welcome and willingness governs it. As an outcome of their contagion, our worship team traveling halfway around the world was made up of a nineteen-year-old, one fifteen-year-old, two fourteen-year-olds, a twelve-year-old, and then the leaders and my husband and I!
The young ones’ emerging skills, my rusty ones, and all those present were bound together into the warm flame of worship, and a beauty like none other rolled through it. Those listening felt it, saw it, and they gathered around the light of God and were re-ignited in love which they now carry with them into the countries of Asia.