Monday, December 15, 2008

Imposed Reverence

Imposed Reverence

Last Sunday afternoon we attended an eye-misting, heart stirring Christmas musical performed by an all-church community choir and several instrumental groups. Some of the music was classical, some traditional, and I was amazed at the talent and creativity in our little town, stuck away in the middle of Eastern Illinois. “My heart rejoiced in God my Savior” as Jesus' mother, Mary said. I even got goose bumps from the sheer joy of knowing this God-become-man, and His eternal love for me.
But, I left the church with it’s exquisite stained-glass windows less than elated. Instead of my joy remaining and spilling into the coming days, I was disappointed, sad and angry. Why?
Because some zealous soul got the idea that reverence equals silence.
Printed in the bulletin for this glorious, Godly music was a request to not applaud, either during or after the program. We, the audience had to bottle and cork our thanks and exultation as we stoically, politely listened to the story of the God of eternity stripping off His robe of glory to become a man. I was tortured.
Praise was shooting out my ears, oozing out my eyeballs and dripping from my hands, but I was not allowed to express it. I felt like a frog at a sitting convention, or a jumping bean in a straightjacket! It was all so frustrating. The beauty and magnificence of the music was squelched by the rule of silence.
I understand that when some people are moved by beauty and awe, they are silent. I have experienced that myself in the presence of God as I’ve prayed or worshipped my Lord and Master. But to impose it on all in the audience because it is one person’s or one group’s idea of reverence, is criminal. I felt cheated out of the blessing of giving my whole self to the One I owe everything to. I needed to clap! I needed to shout “Hallelujah, Jesus is real!” “God is good!” to fully enter into worship (I did sneak in a few ‘amen’s that only Kevin could hear, but that didn’t satisfy my ‘praise’ appetite). I needed to be allowed to express my gratitude to the Savior of my soul, who bought my life from satan and freed me from hell. But, I was obedient during the program, sitting in silence. Later on the rocks and I cried out in praise to Jesus.
Sadly, I won't return to this program next year. Not because the artists didn’t do a splendid job of glorifying God and His majesty. But because they were the only ones allowed to do so.


  1. Oh, how sad!

    Sometimes you just need to express it!

  2. This was a really interesting post for me. I'm one of those quiet ones. People who yell or clap loudly during a service always startle me. LOL Not during praise and worship, though, just when the pastor's speaking.
    I'm so sorry at how you were constricted though. There's a good chance that whoever put those instructions in the bulletin had no inkling that they were imposing on your joy. Perhaps you could send a letter, and maybe go again next year? I bet they were just trying to make it easier for the people performing.
    This is a wonderful post. That church should read it because in all likelihood their intention was never to stifle anyone. :-)