Empty Hands

Photo by Julien Andrieux on Unsplash

I made it five days.

Five.

i resolved at some point in my past to stop watching trailers for movies I am already resolved to see. Seriously, at this point, anything that Marvel or Star Wars is putting out into the theater, they don’t even have to show footage, plot, or actors. They just have to put a title, a release date, and maybe the subtitle, “You Know You’re Coming.”

And I will be.

So when word reached me that there was a new “Rise of Skywalker” trailer, I pretty much opted to not watch any of the trailers.

Why?

Because they always spoil the best parts.

They don’t think they’re spoiling anything. But they’re not that creative. They’re not that inventive. They’re not that secretive.

But they’re inevitably going to spoil some of the best lines and moments.

Remember Captain America: Civil War? Best line, bar none, was about Tony and Captain America not being friends anymore.

Trailer’d.

Endgame? Time travel suits revealed.

Trailer’d.

Spider-Man:Far From Home, mysterio is a secret villain.

Trailer’d.

And I get it. It’s a virtual cottage industry now, making YouTube videos commenting on the new trailers. I mean, people make legit money off of the videos they cut sucking each and every frame dry of any plot points that might be revealed and any new canon created, retcons, disappointments, and predictions.

Seriously, that trailer may have by end of week made several million dollars for the people who had nothing to do with its actual creation.

The advent of the next Star Wars movie has me cringing, though. The relationship of America with Star Wars is weird. We love the part it plays in our culture. But somehow, we hate the actual movies. More often than not, the reactions I get from people who have been to see the most recent Star Wars movie or Star Wars story, i.e. Rogue One and Solo is one of vague disappointment.

I mean, if you go see any other movie outside of the Star Wars franchise that is story telling like those movies, you know you’re getting yourself into something that looks like a campy space story. You go to see it knowing that it does not have any sort of weighted impact on your life.

You see the movie.

You enjoy it.

You go home.

But for some reason, people have brought this ridiculous expectation to the Star Wars movies, and soon enough, to the MCU movies, that they cannot leave satisfied. They bring way more than a desire to be entertained.

Photo by Hieu Vu Minh on Unsplash

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This is not just a problem endemic in going to see movies. We go out to eat and if the service is just a little slow, the food a little less than perfect, or the ambiance just a little less than Lady and the Tramp, the whole dinner is ruined.

We put our fanaticism into a sports team that runs a low chance of achieving victory over the many other teams out there. They have great glories and some needs to improve. And even sometimes when our team is the legit champion, we’re still not fulfilled in the way their season sums up in total.

We drink cups of coffee that may start out well, but eventually end up in a Luke warm last swallow and we wonder why we drink coffee at all.

We try a new church…

We go to church at the apex of a hard week.

We walk from the parking lot a family of hot messes all at war with one another and feel the compulsion to present a family of people who are all some odd cultic peace. And then we ask the most ridiculous of tasks from our church leadership.

Fix me.

Actually… that’s not what we ask. We ask our preacher, our worship leader, our lay leaders, and our neighbors in church to fix the freaking world around us.

Make it more tolerable.

Help me survive what is coming.

The more we are under duress, the less people will leave the next Star Wars movie satisfied that they have watched a movie. Nobody left Inception with more questions than they left The Last Jedi, and yet it was beloved. So many plot holes. So many questions.

And yet…

The zeitgeist of the time was much more amenable to unanswered questions and unfinished stories. It wasn’t a placeholder for someone’s unfinished life.

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

However, when you come to a worship service that is led by people who are committed to the fellowship of the believers and completely sold out to the sovereignty of Christ, your unfinished life can find some new avenues for growth.

Here’s what will trip you up.

God will only finish the work that He began in you.

He will not finish the work that you are trying to begin and end separate of His plans.

Go ahead. Bring an unordained dream to a church service and when God does not honor it. When He does not supply it. When He doesn’t even seem to notice it, tell me how God is not working in your life.

There is a true death to self we have to actually participate in and it can be brutal. Sometimes the greatest burden we must leave at the foot of the cross is our own stubborn pride. We must pry our own lives away from our own fingertips, a feat that can only be accomplished with the patient strength of the Creator, gently pulling at our ruinous hands.

We must bring our hands and our lives emptied then to the cross and reach them up, only hoping to ever have them filled with Him. Familiar image? If not, you’ve not been to a liturgical worship service where they observe a communion at the altar railing. There at the rail, you kneel with your hands cupped and upraised.

There, you bring your emptiness to be filled with His completeness.

Don’t go to church hoping to sing your favorite song to awaken a specific emotional denouement. Go, and if you can, go already worshipping Him. Leave there with the worship not yet complete, to be finished maybe someday, but at least to last as long as the after-church-nap.


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I say this as a worship leader who desperately tries to program worship that is attainable for lay people and connects with the heart of God. I seek to have the worship we lead to instruct people about the attributes of God and to give us all a common language to worship Him in and out of song.

I’m biased about what real worship is.

And it isn’t the singing.

It isn’t only the singing.

It is our life laid out and open before Him. It is lived in front of Him. We learn. We observe. We extol. We celebrate. We revere. We live.

This isn’t a correction only for people outside of myself. I bring my own baggage into worship every single week.

I like the piano quiet and the electronic instruments blaring. I like the bass turned up so high that my eyeballs vibrate. I like to move through a well prepared guitar pedal from something that shreds to something that hums gently. I like to move from quiet introspective melodic simplicity to something that rattles the gates of Hell with its powerful support of the message that God reigns.

And I have had to let much of that go for the sake of the people I currently serve.

I know that some of them would be totally down for a shred fest.

Others, it would hurt.

Others, it would simply annoy.

But I have let go of myself so that I might find something bigger and beyonder.

Try that.

Bring only what you are given and empty yourself of expectation.

Come to the altar, knowing that in His mysterious perfection, as you lay yourself down, you will take up a life that is perfectly loved and perfectly supplied.

I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
-Hillsong

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Categories: WorshipTags: , , , ,

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