Hands of My Heart04.26.10

Yesterday at church people were standing and praising God to the beat of the band. Some folks were standing woodenly, unfree to sit down, unfree to raise their hands. For a moment, I felt like them. I liked the song, but found myself distracted by the powerpoint words which lagged a split-second behind, and the background, which showed exotic locations I’ll never get to in my life.

My rebellious side started to wonder how the early Christians in their clandestine, pre-dawn gatherings of disparate members of society would have felt about our clean, safe, culturally dyed worship far from poverty or prison, hunger or the Coliseum. Or not even going that far back, how would St. Francis of Assissi, or  St. Francis Xavier who brought the gospel to Japan, or Hannah Wesley have thought about it? Would they have glared in disbelief at the wealth of the church, the focus on “me,” the lack of call to repentance?

Time morphed, and I remembered the first time I raised my hands unprompted to God in joyful outpouring of praise as a college student. Time morphed again, and I thought how odd we would all look to my neighbors back home in Japan. Then, almost as quickly, my mind saw Japanese friends who have been deeply changed by Jesus in the room with us. It almost felt like the closing scene in Places in the Heart, except a lot of my friends are still alive. But their eyes weren’t on the room, or the instruments, or the people around them. Their  upturned faces glowed with peace and joy because their eyes were on Jesus and the hands of their hearts were lifted in praise, in surrender, in receiving all that our living Lord has to pour out on us.

Dyed by Jesus. Dead to myself, alive to Jesus. The trappings don’t matter much, whether it’s a plainsong chant or a high tech show. When I’ve died to my dreams and my pride and my failures and myself as ruler of my universe,  if my eyes are turned to Jesus, the hands of my heart go up.

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Church.

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