intimate worship

Intimacy has been a big topic in my mind for several years, even as I’ve experienced a dearth of it.  I’ve been thinking about what it is, what it isn’t, what what promotes it, and what constrains it.

I feel somehow hyper-sensitive to intimacy because of its vacuum in my own life.  I notice it in places where I’m sure I’d have passed it by before.  Some of those places are perhaps what you’d expect, in otherwise casual friendships that take brief excursions to the deep places of the heart.  Other instances surprise me more, for example: the somehow amazing intimate heart-touch in praying for someone whom I otherwise little know.

One place intimacy has surfaced unexpected has been in worship teams.  I think it exists to a degree in any sort of performing entity – rock bands or theatre groups for example – but somehow even more so when the objective is to provide music that leads people to the presence of God.  Though it may extend to practices and hang-out times after a gig, the main place I notice it is in the actual act of worship.

Friendship is generally a precursor to intimacy and in the past I’ve been part of teams that remained together for years.  In that situation it seems reasonable that the relationships involved could grow intimate over the span of time.  But the place it has popped up unexpected has been in relatively impromptu teams of experienced worship musicians who’ve come together for a particular need.  It amazes me when I get a sense of intimacy with people whose lives I’m not otherwise especially connected to.

Here are some things I see in such teams that contribute to the sense of intimacy:

  • common purpose
  • trust
  • forgiveness (acknowledgment that we’re all imperfect)
  • communication that is felt more than voiced
  • openness and willingness to speak the truth when it needs to be said
  • playfulness
  • give and take
  • respect
  • vulnerability

I would assert that the Kingdom of God is a place of great intimacy.  But churches – because of political struggles, personal agendas and fears – are generally the antithesis of intimate.

Somehow a team of people who have individually spent years honing their musical skills; who have individually spent years seeking God in their own lives, can come together for a few hours and experience a Kingdom-of-God intimacy that other believers hunger for.

Jesus established the dual relationship orientation that defines us: love God more than anything else, then love everyone else the same as yourself.  In worship – the act of expressing our love of God – there is also a place of sharing the love for each other.

I relish that intimacy.  Just now as I describe it I long to experience it again.

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