Part two of the obstacles to worship series comes on the back end of my sick week. Last week I had the respiratory bug and lost my voice for the weekend. I can’t even put to words how frustrating and discouraging this was. By Sunday morning I felt better except that I was a little tired and my voice made me sound like Lurch from the Adams Family; only shorter.
I was forced to offer worship to God without using my voice. No Singing! If I tried, very little came out. I did not feel so bad that I could not attend worship, so I came to worship. Physically I was present, but I had to engage myself into worship in a different mode. I believe that scripture is very clear in that we are all to “sing our praises to the Lord.” Sunday morning I longed to sing at the top of my lungs but it was not to be. I felt chipper, joyful, but no joyful noise would come forth. Could I really lead worship without a voice?
I could and I did with the help of my team. Here’s how;
- The early service was, in some ways a easier and in some ways more difficult.
- I was able to hand of the congregational leading to a faithful choir member.
- I could still direct the choir special – (my voice loss hadn’t affected my arms.) However–
- In the traditional setting where only two instruments play the accompaniment and the congregation’s only mode of participation is “stand and sing” I was unable to worship out loud. I could lead the choir and that was it. So I was only actively participating on that one song. Clapping isn’t a regular practice in that setting, so my hands were useless as a praise instrument. I stood on the front row and smiled. If the bass part descended into my range I grunted a few notes.
- The second service also had it’s limitations and opportunities.
- I handed off the song intros to a praise team member. And another praise team member was already carrying the melody. (A team of vocalists is effective at leading worship and is also a built in back up plan when I can’t lead.)
- I could still play guitar and lead the band on all the worship music. This was very close to full participation to me. I really felt like I was worshiping even though my voice wasn’t a part of the offering. (Were I not playing guitar I would have been clapping.)
- I smiled. When I think about the Lord, He makes me smile. I can’t help it. Smiling leads people in worship. Even when I’m not singing, I can communicate the joy of the Lord with a smile. I’m always preaching to the choir that they need to smile, so I made certain that my discouragement about not having a voice didn’t derail my heart from worshiping.
Worshipers and worship leaders, what do you do when you aren’t quite yourself on a Sunday morning? Do you give up and go home or come and observe as a non-participant? How do you find ways to join God’s people in praise when you just don’t have it?