I worship with my eyes closed. This is a personal choice. I do not by any means think everyone should close their eyes during worship. If anything, I consider my need to close my eyes a reflection of a couple of big areas of weakness in my life. First of all, I
worry too much about what everyone else around me is thinking about me when my eyes are open.
No one here raises their hands? Oh, then I shouldn’t either… I wonder if my singing sounds ok? Yikes! Did I just flub the words to that song? Who noticed?
Stupid, ridiculous pride and before I know it, God has lost the preeminence in my worship.
And so…I keep my eyes closed.
Secondly, I guess I have some kind of serious issue with ADHD or something because all of the stuff that goes around me in worship can be fatally distracting. I attend a large church which means there are…a lot of people. People trying to find a seat. People coming in late. People chatting. People drinking coffee.
Then there are the extras- The flashing lights (some are called intimidators!) that pulse in time with the music and sweep the crowd; The huge, huge, high def, Technicolor screen that makes my eyeballs ache; The fog machine for crying out loud…
I understand that all of these things are a deliberate effort to extend the church to the un-churched. I get it. I don’t begrudge it.
But I can’t process it either.
Oh, and I get migraines too and flashing lights are the bane of migraine sufferers.
So I keep my eyes closed. It is a solution that works for me.
Yesterday, I had my eyes closed in church. I was deeply in worship, singing from a place raw understanding of just how cavernous my need for God is. I was at that true place of worship where, even though I was in a sanctuary filled with hundreds and hundreds, I was alone before God singing…
I need Thee,
Oh, I need Thee!
Every hour I need Thee!
Then I got a bump to the elbow, jarring me out of worship. A family had arrived very late, almost when worship was over, coffee in hand. They wanted me to move so they could get to their seats.
I shook myself free of the holy, to offer grace to these my brothers and sisters as I moved to allow them to file into the seats beside me.
I don’t know what the answer is about modern worship. I know there are moments when I want to run away to a small liturgical body, or escape to the Abbey of Gethsemane for a silent retreat. (It is silent. The whole place smells like fudge. What is not to love?)
I sometimes wonder if it is worth the discussion to ask if the “un-churched” really want the flashing lights, fog machine, and Technicolor screen. I don’t know…maybe they are weary of all the noise out there and would love some holy silence for a moment.
Here is what I do know. Christianity is always the experience of being ripped from the solace of the holy to offer grace to the hard to love.
That’s why we need Jesus. Every single hour.