“And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:11, ESV)
I remember sitting in worship as a child as communion was being distributed. The organist began to play the song “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus” and the congregation began to sing. The only problem was that everyone was sitting down. Finally, one man caught the irony of this and stood up. The rest of the congregation followed his lead.
Worship is not a passive activity where we sit and watch religious activity being performed. We engage. We participate. We move. We sing. We clap. We dance.
The Wise Men go into the house and they see Jesus. The text says they fell down and worshiped him. It doesn’t say that they voluntarily kneeled. It says they fell down. The sense of the text is that they were compelled, overwhelmed by the experience of entering into the presence of Jesus.
When we encounter Jesus it will engage more than just our mind but also our heart. It will move every part of our being. Showered by his grace, we are overwhelmed in such a way that we can’t remain still. We must do something.
The Psalms describe several gestures and actions we make in worship:
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:6, ESV)
“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:4, ESV)
“Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!” (Psalm 149:3, ESV)
“Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Psalm 47:1, ESV)
“To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!” (Psalm 123:1, ESV)
“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” (Psalm 143:6, ESV)
We bow out of humility, sorrow, and repentance. We lift our hands in surrender to God. We dance, overcome with the joy of Jesus. We clap our hands in praise. We lift our eyes in trust. We hold out our hands to receive the blessings God wants to pour into our lives.
It is hard to worship God with our hands in our pockets or our arms crossed. These are gestures that denote reluctance and rather surrender. We are showing that we are holding back rather than fully engaging.
In many churches I have been in, people are often “uncomfortable” to more fully engage. They fear that raising their hands might be too Pentecostal or that making the sign of the cross might be too Catholic. There are other people who are self-conscious and worried about what others might think. Often it is our pride that gets in the way. But worship is about letting go and abandoning ourselves to God.
If you are compelled to lift holy hands to the Lord, what is holding your back? Is it the desire to please man or God? What is it that hold you back from singing more boldly like you sing in the shower? God does not ask us to bring a perfect voice on key. He says to make a joyful noise.
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” (Psalm 98:4, ESV)
- What gestures of worship are significant for you?
- What gestures are you reluctant to embrace? Why?
Lord, I surrender. I give all to you. Take my lips and let them be used for praise to you. Take my hands and feet and move them in service to your kingdom. Forgive me of pride. Forgive me for being reserved and holding myself back from you. Give me the humility to worship you with my whole being. Amen!