On July 30, Susan McSwain brought her friends from Reality Ministries to lead us in worship. Reality Ministries is a community of people with and without disabilities serving each other and serving the city of Durham, North Carolina, together. As they lead worship that Sunday, I experienced a joy so pure I almost questioned all previous experiences of joy in worship. In trying to say thank you, I found myself reflecting theologically on that iris-widening encounter. Theology, if I am reading Paul correctly, is a thank-you note to a life-impacting gift. So, here is my letter to give thanks for the gift I received in worship.
Dear Susan McSwain and the Reality Ministries Team,
Thank you for leading worship for us. For you weren’t just a guest preacher and worship team breaking up our routine. No. You changed the worship of New Life permanently. For the following Sunday’s worship wasn’t ordinary either. Your team wasn’t there, but your joyous spirit was flaming through us, like menorah candles that stay lit beyond its oil supply. Now, we weren’t dancing as we did when your friends led, but feet were tapping and I swear, given time, those feet would have hopped and spun. People were singing so loudly it was difficult to hear the worship leader at the microphone. He was happy to step away from the microphone and let the congregation lead. Just as it was when your friends led, it was confusing as to who was leading who.
What did you do to us?
You loosened the chains of performance in our worship. And we didn’t even know….