Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Presentation vs Worship

Sunday afternoon, we attended our church's Christmas Cantata.  When we lived in Georgia, Tony was always part of these types of things so I was very thankful that he got to watch it with us.  (I'm big on those "whole family" kinds of things.)  We arrived at the theater about 3 minutes early.  The plan was to arrive about 35 minutes early, but a parade cutting across the city made it difficult to get to the theater.  Much thanks to Mr. G who became our personal GPS!

I was quite concerned that Coralynn wouldn't be properly behaved during the two-hour long performance.  And the evening started out rocky.  When we found our seats, we organized the kids and sat down.  Coralynn started screaming.  It took me about 30 seconds (which felt like a lifetime) to figure out the problem.  Miss Big Girl wanted her own seat.  I hadn't purchased a ticket for her, so Camilla sat in my lap and Coralynn got a seat.  Oh to be the Princesa!  (eventually, the lady sitting next to Carson moved over, and Camilla took her seat.)  Once we got the Bits her own seat, we didn't hear from her again.  She was enthralled.



The lighting is too dark to see her very well,
but you can see the Bits mesmerized by the show.


Earlier in the week, I had posted a facebook status that prompted a conversation about worship versus presentation in light of all the Christmas programs being done this time of year.  CBC's Cantata was a glorious presentation that I'm sure came from a heart of true worship for many (most?  all?) the participants.  



Here is the one complete song I was able to capture
before my camera battery died.
(At the 2:22 mark,you can see our senior pastor singing in the choir group on the left.  He's the tall, skinny, white guy.  I love that our pastor participates in the choir when there isn't a "need.")


Generally speaking, I don't attend cantatas with worship in mind.  (Is that terrible to admit?)  I like them because they help to foster the Christmas mood.  I don't know if it was my previous conversation or the Spirit moving in the theater, but one moment in this program (which I have no footage of) brought me to a place of worship.  The choir was signing an arragement of "We Three Kings."  The first "king" walked into the theater from behind me on the right.  It was Keith. 

Keith is a South African gentleman who has been serving the Lord in Panama since the 1970s (I think.).  He's the elder statesman and wise grandfather of the church.  Tony considers the man in the same light with Elijah.  He's spent years translating the Old Testament into the local Kuna language.  I've watched him wrestle with that responisbility and begging prayer that he would "get it right."  He's given his life to the Lord.  And his health is beginning to betray him.  He walks slowly, carefully, and with a cane.

He walked into the theater in full "wise man" regalia.  Following him was a procession of "wise man servants" carrying gifts for the baby King.  I had learned the night before that one of these teenagers was serving as Keith's de facto cane.  They whole group progressed so regally.  And then they came to the stairs.  And I stopped breathing. 

First, there were 4 steps to the stage.  Totally doable.  No problem.  They made it up without issue.  I breathed.  Then I realized they weren't done.  As you can see in the second video, there was a staircase going up to a platform.  I couldn't believe he was going to try it.  But he did.  He and his teenage cane made it up the staircase.  Tony and I got lightheaded holding our breath during it.

The choir kept singing and the rest of the "wise men" paraded in.  It struck me.  Here was a gentleman who had no reason to be part of the cantata.  He doesn't have a god-given singing or dancing talent.  This isn't his once-a-year act of service.  His life is service.  Why be part of it?

I don't know his answer.

The song continued.  The "wise men" stood next to "Mary," "Joseph," and "Jesus."  And then tears started streaming down my face.  I almost yelled out.

The "wise men" presented their gifts.  And Keith, in pure worship, kneeled before the baby.

He didn't make it as low as the other kings did, but that man kneeled.  By human standards, he's already given his whole life to the King.  And he still walked, shakily and with assistance, up all those stairs and kneeled.  Why did he choose to be part of it?  My guess?

Because he couldn't not.  He had to be there. 

He had to take another opportunity to kneel before the Lord. 

He had to give everything without consideration to ease, or ability, or comfort. 

He gave it all.


And that is the heart of worship.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

What you shared about Keith brought me to tears. Oh that I too would give everything without consideration to ease, or ability, or comfort. Now I'm going to go back & watch the videos.. I suspect more tears will fall now that I have your insight into the heart of worship. Thank you for sharing. Thank God for your church.