Then Mary took … expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance.
(John 12:3, NIV)
“Don’t you like the way Mary worshiped? She let her hair down! She disregarded the critics and the customs and filled the house with the fragrance of her praise.”
One of the most difficult of the restrictions placed on the church at the moment is the prohibition on singing. How can you do church without singing? The ukulele group that rents the hall has decided that if they can’t sing they won’t meet. We have not taken that position with respect to our service. Sure we would prefer to sing, but we can’t, and that’s it for the moment.
For around twelve months or so, we have been beginning the service with a single song and silent worship. A time of reflection and private worship within the context of the chosen song. We have learned that we don’t have to sing to express our deepest worship to our Lord. It seems to me that this was a training period for what was to come. We were being prepared in the gentlest possible way for what is now our new reality. Now each week we have four silent worship songs and you are free to express yourselves in whatever way you feel led. Please don’t get bogged down in the Pentecostal versus traditional mindset. Worship is neither restricted nor limited to any expression or stream of belief. It is just worship, and in our new normal, we are released to find ways to express our love for God that doesn’t involve singing.
Personally, there are two places where I find the deepest worship. The first is when I am alone and preparing these devotionals and sermons for you. Being a part of the process where God gently leads me to what He wants to say to us each week is a great privilege and in the deepest focus and concentration of my mind. I find myself very close to God. You might say then that these devotionals and sermons are expressions of my worship. The second form of worship is when I am playing on my drum. That funny looking box on a stand hiding beside the piano. I have been playing music since I was fourteen years old and playing in church since 1986. I haven’t been able to play since the last evening service, so my hands are going to be very sore when we get some musicians and are able to start the music up again. For me worship in church is all about expressing myself through my hands and hitting a drum or set of drums and cymbals. I’m not much of a singer so that is what works for me.
At the evening services, we have seen other expressions of worship. There are some who raise one or both hands, others who bring flags and banners, and at various times in the song service these are waved and sometimes walked through the congregation. I have seen some amazing things happen when the flags are waved over someone or in one instance completely wrapped around someone. The end result of that particular event was that the person was healed of a potentially terminal cancer. All because someone listened to God and worshipped Him with what they had in their hand, and we are so glad that they did that. Others will dance still others will kneel or prostrate themselves on the floor of the church. Every one of these examples are real expressions of worship and none of them involve singing.
Let’s take a moment to ponder on Bob Gass’s comment on Mary in the introduction. You know, even among those closest to Jesus, there were those who thought that what she did was a little bit too extravagant. There are always those who will think like that when there is something a little out of the box happening in the meetings. Jesus, however, would not hear of it. Both Matthew and Mark record the master’s response.
Matthew 26:13 (NKJV)
13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Here we are nearly two thousand years later reflecting on this woman’s act of devotion and worship, and her example is honored, exactly as Jesus promised.
At the bottom of this page, I have included a song that I believe the Lord has chosen for this moment. As you listen, just enter into worship and express your love for Jesus in any way that you wish, without joining in the singing. For this reason, I have not chosen the video with lyrics. Let us know how you go in the comments section below.
The last word from Bob Gass
“Child of God put aside your preconceived notions, your self-consciousness, and your concern over what others think, and pour out your love to the One who is worthy. Listen: “Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee … I will bless Thee while I live. I will lift up my hands in Thy name” (Psalms 63:3–4). That’s the way to do it!
Religious folks will always try to intimidate and silence you. Don’t let them! When they tried it with Jesus, He rebuked them and said, “If they keep quiet the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40, NIV). You can never worship God too exuberantly, for God knows, it’s either us or the rocks! John says the house was filled with the fragrance. Go ahead, fill the place with His praise!
Nothing builds intimacy between people like words of love and appreciation. Judas will always say, “What a waste!” When you take time to stand and “bathe” your soul in the presence of God, some will say, “What a waste of time; what a waste of effort.”
You see, they don’t understand that worship is how you enter, how you enjoy, and how you live in the presence of God.
 All quotes are from, Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 247.