So okay, awhile back we were hanging out with friends and a question addressed to me was, "so I've seen people raising their hands when singing those songs in church and I'm wondering what is the point of that? Why do that?"
Well, why to do people clap or cheer? Why do they pump their fists at rock concerts? Shout for joy when they hear exciting news? Whoop & holler or jump up and down when they are excited? Bow their heads or kneel down during a prayer?
My answer was... "it's an expression? An act of worship."
Truth is: I used to wonder the same thing! I grew up in a very conservative church that sang straight from the hymnal- sans instruments. There was no act of expression, unless you count standing, sitting, or bowing your head (and we were instructed when to do so).
The first time I physically knelt while singing a song I felt a very humble way rush over me. I couldn't explain it, but there was a connection with singing a praise to my King while bowing before Him.
Imagine my surprise when I was attending church with a friend and full out dances evoked (involving long colorful ribbons), and people were raising their hands and shouting, "Hallelujah!!" At the time I felt mildly uncomfortable, but intrigued.
Then, one day I was standing in my kitchen listening to a David Crowder Band cd I felt it. So, I thought, why not? Singing this song, I raised my hand, and with my heart worshipped my King. I cried. I felt free. In public gatherings I have felt it since, this strong urge to raise my hands in praise to God the Father and our King. Initially, I suppressed it. Several times actually. I had never openly worshipped in a physical way like that publicly, and it went against what I'd been accustomed to. I mean, we were made to run, jump, clap, sing, yell, play, and dance! Why? -no When did praising God and worshipping Him become limited to just singing to Him? How did that happen? Who exampled to us that that made the only sense ? Time and time again, year after generations of Christians - sing together, pray together, and learn a spiritual message together. That has been the routine. And that's fine if simpling singing is a person's way of worshipping. I'm not saying it isn't! It's fine. There is something very powerful about hundreds, even thousands, of people coming together and singing praises to the One King, Almighty God. I'm way for that! But I can't believe that God, in His infinite CREATIVE wisdom, designing us all uniquely, created us to worship Him in only "certain" ways.
My friend asked a good question.
Why DO people do what they DO?
I have never seen spontaneous African dance in person, but have you ever seen the videos? They are so expressive! They sing, they feel, they express it in dance. It's amazing. There are a lot more expressive ones that this: http://youtu.be/9Mm9YaoQdww but I just tried to imagine a dance such as this within the confines of a "typical" American worship service.
Well, today I freely raise my hands to praise God publicly, privately, whenever I feel compelled (or moved) to do so. I sit too and bow my head somtimes. When I am home I dance. Yes, I do. I sing, I write, I run, I pray, I ask, I listen, I smell, I see, I serve, I create, I love....all of these an act of worship. An expression. A response. Of the heart. Of the body.
I even imagine a day when no one is questioned for using their art or expressions, in whatever form (morally conceived, naturally) to worship God --and when they truly feel free to do so. Because we all are. Free to worship Him. However we may choose.