The other day at church, the music team was really rocking out on stage before the sermon began. I go to one of those mega churches that have put together lots of top notch musicians who play for the first 20 minutes, getting us all to sing and clap along to some great tunes. I always make sure to be at the service on time for what I call the ‘Christian Kareoke’ where they post the words to the songs on the big screen so we can all sing along. I love it.
Fellowship of the Woodlands Church has totally transformed what worship is and brought it up to date. They’ve made Christianity relevant to many people who would have hated church in the past. That’s why the 4 services at our church are always packed. We’ve got over 10,000 active members. They also have on-line streaming video of the service for those who don’t make it to church.
Anyhow, I was in church last Sunday. We were singing and really getting into the music. At the end of an edgy song where the female singer brought the song to a screaming crescendo, everyone in the congregation stood and cheered, clapping and shouting. That wasn’t so unusual, but what caught my attention ( I’m always on alert for the quirks and contradictions in life) was the words of exclamation and excitement used during the applause.
“Hallelujah!” One arm raised overhead, palm facing the stage, “Hallelujah!”
Now, I’ve been around church and religious groups my whole life, and ‘Hallelujah’ isn’t an unfamiliar word. It’s in scripture everywhere. We sing it in hymns. I’ve read it out loud when quoting a Bible verse. I love the song by that title too, made famous by Jeff Buckley.
But isn’t it weird how certain words are used in specific realms? ‘Hallelujah’ expresses praise and excitement about worship, but I don’t normally express my excitement over a piece of music, a song or a concert by shouting that word. I would normally say, “Yeah!” or “Wooooohooo!” or maybe an ear-piercing, stadium-style whistle.
It just got me to thinking about using specific lingo in crossover events. Like when the Houston Texans score a touchdown, wouldn’t it sound odd for me to jump up and shout, “Hallelujah” ? Or vice versa, at the end of that inspirational song in church, if I’d jump up and give a mustard-drenched, deep testosterone roar of ” Go Jesus!! Whooa! Whooa-oooh!”
I don’t know. I guess it was just the word itself. I don’t use ‘Hallelujah’ in any other area of my life. The same as I don’t worship anything like I worship God in my life either. So I recognize that it is a special word set aside for praise and awe directed toward my God. It just seems like a more spontaneous response from a very hip and young congregation might be more along the line of “Wow!” or “I Love You!” or “Hey!” or ‘Yeah!”. Or perhaps someone would get a charge out of hearing a good long blast from a compressed air horn that I smuggled into church!
On the other hand, the next time I go see Carlos Santana, or attend a wedding, or share a fabulous dance with Patty and my heart overflows with exuberance, maybe I’ll reel back and bellow out a hearty, “Hallelujah!”
I wonder what the response would be?