Living the questions and trying to think theologically... and practically. Learning that these things are more synonymous than I once thought.

Location: Dallas, TX

Friday, February 25, 2005

A New Found Appreciation for the Universal Language

Seeing as how I am such a verbal person, I have always enjoyed words. I wish I knew how many I used a day. I’m sure it would be way above that of the average person. I began speaking in full sentences at an abnormally young age. When I was 12, I wrote poetry because I thought I was in love. I have never been afraid to speak in front of a crowd. In college, I chose speech communication as my major. When it comes to preaching, I’m not bad for a white girl... well, sometimes at least. I enjoy reading. My favorite professor earned his status because he is such a word smith. I get upset when people have broader vocabularies than me. I am attracted to men who have a way with words, like Donald Miller and you know who. I love to hear good sermons. Recently, I have acquired this passion for writing my thoughts and feelings on paper, or typing them into a computer. Quoting people is my new hobby. All of that to say, words are the primary vehicle through which I express myself. Who I am can best be discovered through these things called words.

I used to be very bothered by quiet people. I could not understand why they were not more like me in constantly verbalizing thoughts and feeling through words. This just goes to show what I always say to my junior high students, “One of our biggest problems is that, although we would never say it, we think everyone should be just like us.”

This particularly bothered me during my first few weeks at UBC. Worship leaders I encountered before had always preached sermonettes between songs. Some would even verbally give instructions to worshippers during in the middle of praise choruses. David Crowder was uniquely different. The only things he ever said were at the beginning of a service, and they were usually cheesy or funny. I asked Josh, “Why does this guy never talk?” This was indeed a mystery to me.

A few weeks back I went to a worship service led by a young man who would yell out to an audience of youth, “Consecrate yourselves before the Lord”, along with a stream of other very churchy phrases. I looked at the 7th graders thinking that there was no way in hell they knew what that could possibly mean. As a 25-year-old seminary student, I am not even sure that I understand it fully. The thought that kept reoccurring in my mind- “Why can’t this guy just shut up and stop inhibiting my worship with all these words? Boy, I miss the David Crowder Band.”

There are times and experiences for which words cannot adequately express that which one longs to communicate. I think Derrida talked about that, about how words are limited. When one fully engages oneself and becomes aware and sensitive of God’s all encompassing Holy presence, words never feel like enough. Today in my class on emerging worship, we talked about whether music conveys theology through words or if music itself can be theology. If theology is the vehicle through which we study God, then I definitely believe there is much we learn about him through music. The crazy thing is we might all be learning something completely different through the same song. Music stirs different things inside each of us. Though I am thankful for the doctrines that word in songs has taught us, I have become equally thankful for those times in which I can freely and uninhibitedly relate to my creator through notes, harmonies, and rhythms. While I may only and always be verbal, thank God for people like Dave, Hogan, B-wack, Jack, Mike, and Jason who expand our vocabulary of praise through the language of music.


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