Sherri Gragg

Writer. Mom. Daydreamer. Dog's Best Friend.

Flashing Lights, Tecnicolor Screen, And a Fog Machine, Oh My!!!

I worship with my eyes closed.  This is a personal choice. I do not by any means think everyone should close their eyes during worship.  If anything, I consider my need to close my eyes a reflection of a couple of big areas of weakness in my life.  First of all, I

Sign at The Abbey of Gethsemane that made me laugh.

Sign at The Abbey of Gethsemane that made me laugh.

worry too much about what everyone else around me is thinking about me when my eyes are open.

No one here raises their hands?  Oh, then I shouldn’t either…  I wonder if my singing sounds ok?  Yikes!  Did I just flub the words to that song?  Who noticed?

Stupid, ridiculous pride and before I know it, God has lost the preeminence in my worship.

And so…I keep my eyes closed.

Secondly, I guess I have some kind of serious issue with ADHD or something because all of the stuff that goes around me in worship can be fatally distracting.  I attend a large church which means there are…a lot of people.  People trying to find a seat.  People coming in late.  People chatting.  People drinking coffee.

Then there are the extras- The flashing lights (some are called intimidators!) that pulse in time with the music and sweep the crowd; The huge, huge, high def, Technicolor screen that makes my eyeballs ache; The fog machine for crying out loud…

I understand that all of these things are a deliberate effort to extend the church to the un-churched.  I get it.  I don’t begrudge it.

But I can’t process it either.

Oh, and I get migraines too and flashing lights are the bane of migraine sufferers.

So I keep my eyes closed. It is a solution that works for me.

Yesterday, I had my eyes closed in church.  I was deeply in worship, singing from a place raw understanding of just how cavernous my need for God is.  I was at that true place of worship where, even though I was in a sanctuary filled with hundreds and hundreds, I was alone before God singing…

I need Thee,

Oh, I need Thee!

Every hour I need Thee!

Then I got a bump to the elbow, jarring me out of worship.  A family had arrived very late, almost when worship was over, coffee in hand.  They wanted me to move so they could get to their seats.

I shook myself free of the holy, to offer grace to these my brothers and sisters as I moved to allow them to file into the seats beside me.

I don’t know what the answer is about modern worship.  I know there are moments when I want to run away to a small liturgical body, or escape to the Abbey of Gethsemane for a silent retreat.  (It is silent.  The whole place smells like fudge.  What is not to love?)

I sometimes wonder if it is worth the discussion to ask if the “un-churched” really want the flashing lights, fog machine, and Technicolor screen.  I don’t know…maybe they are weary of all the noise out there and would love some holy silence for a moment.

Here is what I do know.  Christianity is always the experience of being ripped from the solace of the holy to offer grace to the hard to love. 

That’s why we need Jesus.  Every single hour.

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2 comments on “Flashing Lights, Tecnicolor Screen, And a Fog Machine, Oh My!!!

  1. lkr2665
    March 10, 2014

    Are you reading my mind? Or just voicing my thoughts in a profound way? Thanks for your honesty and the light you bring to my daily walk. I feel validated and relieved that I am not alone. Many hugs.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Wade Webster
    March 11, 2014

    I feel your pain, Sherri. I visited a church with that atmosphere last summer. The first time the spotlight hit me square on I started looking for the sign that said how far it was to Damascus. The second time it hit me the aura started. I thought, “Of all the times to have a tall person in front of my why couldn’t it be now?”
    I’m so blessed to attend a church that actually still uses hymnals and concentrates on studying the Bible. That’s what the “un-churched” really need, the truth.

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This entry was posted on March 10, 2014 by in Christianity, church, faith, God, Jesus, religion, theology, Uncategorized, worship and tagged , , , , , , .
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