Today's Reading: Psalms 134,146-150
An ancient and universal movement in worship is to lift one's hands over one's head. What is this positioning of our body all about?
My earliest memory of lifting my hands up over my head was when I wanted my mommy or my daddy to lift me up to hold me. This was usually when I was tired and wanted to be carried, or when I wanted to be cradled and comforted.
Another time in life when I lifted my hands over my head was in school. It was a signal which said, "Hey, I'm here! I think I know the answer! I'm excited to share! Call on me! Pick me!"
Being the fourth child with three older siblings, another time I raised my hands over my head was when I had been pinned down or cornered. Raised hands at that time signaled surrender. "Put your hands up!" the sheriff used to say to the criminal on Gunsmoke. I would raise my hands and declare, "Uncle! I give up; You win."
I was also a very energetic child who grew to be a great sports fan. As a member of the "alternate" pep club, called the "Bleacher Bums," we would cheer wildly and boldly for our team, sometimes raising a threatening fist against the enemy and other times throwing our arms up in victory.
Now, as a pastor, I raise my arms and hands in yet another gesture, the gesture of blessing. As the wings of the Spirit encircle God's people with shelter and care, as a mother hen would gather her chicks, so we gather together to ask the LORD's blessing upon us each week.
So, why do we lift our hands in worship?
To beg for God to come to us, to carry us, to cradle us.
To signal, "Here I am, LORD!", call on me, I want to speak the answer you have given me on my heart.
To declare, "I surrender all to you," you win, I am yours.
To shout against the enemy of evil; to join the throng of "Hosannas!" and praise.
To bless the LORD, for the LORD has done great things for even me.
Don't be shy! Even if it has never been your tradition in worship, we are commanded--commanded--to lift up our hands in the sanctuary!
So get those deltoid, bicep and tricep muscles toned for a workout of worship in the sanctuary!