The Call of Pentecostal Praise and Worship

By: Nimi Wariboko
Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

praise-dancersThere was always sound, joy, and anointing as a mighty rushing stream in Brooklyn. Far away from the place, I hear your call! I hear it break the walls of these deaf classrooms.[1] I want to feel your touch again and feel your warm embrace or at your deep set myself free, dance, and inhale the glory. Like the chrysalis I want to unfold my being and fill my days with the sun of righteousness, with songs from the lips of angels. I hear your ecstatic call, I hear it coming through; invoking the Spirit, coming from where your children hail your miracles and your power flows. My praise and worship is calling me! Its ceaseless drumming, rhizomatic rhythms, joyous voices, and endless halleluiahs impel my heady head and swift legs down its stream. And each concluding lecture brings near the spirit-call, the wooing and cooing that make my flesh tremble and burn the constraints of crouching dead walls. O enveloping Spirit, shall my years of praise and worship be my pilot to my final destiny. O my all-knowing God?

The Pentecostal praise and worship is a power that draws me to God wherever I am; a powerless power that awakens me in the morning, a glorious power that sets the sun of my day into the abyss of darkness. It calls me by my name, by my village name, by my secret name. It calls me with my mother’s accent. Are its ways with me too wonderful to understand?  

Praise and worship has the uncanny agency to commune with members of the place both as subject and object. We create it. But it is also recreates us simultaneously. In the very moment praise and worship becomes both object and subject, it has also become the most heartfelt, plaintive, and euphoric prayer, almost becoming the silky skin of the Holy Spirit, who according to Romans 8:26 both receives our prayers and prays to the Godhead for us. Who calls me? What irrupts into the quotidian business of my days?

On a bad day praise and worship calls and I am elevated, my steps acquiring some spring. On a good day it calls and I am rapturous. Its call is an entrainment, a blissful moment with the divine. Some important people say on TV they meditate, I just praise and worship. Some do yoga, I only do praise and worship. Others look for company to do great things; I go to church to participate in praise and worship.

The company of God’s children worshiping is wonderful, surpassing the love of women, the taste of delicacies, and is sweeter than happiness. The stretched and raised hands of those rapt in praise and prayer, the expanded vocal chords and voices of believers singing, speaking-in-tongues, prophesying, and bodies and minds opened to the Spirit are a womb that gently takes me and births me into the web of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The communal praise and worship is the breathing body, the life-giving womb, and the expansive birth canal of the bride. Yes, you call me. I hear you! The voice of strangers I will not hear.

The communal praise and worship weaves voices of joy and sadness, hope and fear, ecstasy and lament together to create something beautiful. It is the raptured soul of the gathering, the candle of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost travels and reaches the community on the lush rug weaved by the repetitive loops of songs, textured by vulnerable tenderness, melodic voices, blend of bodies, and their rhythmic patterns. Pentecostals use songs to express their heart desires to God, to grab his attention, to touch the hem of his garment, to ride on the train of his robe, and to rise above the world’s din as blind Bartimaeus did. A song is an invitation for Christ to come and meet them, to dwell among them, to witness the extraordinary capability of people using their entire voice, face, and body to express their creativity in the service of the divine, to come and laugh with them, and to heal them.

The pentecostal praise and worship exudes the character of a chariot of fire that brings Christ to dwell among his people: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The praise and worship is a flying tabernacle of David that brings grace and truth to earth from the Father’s heart. When the tabernacle lands in the place there is freedom, fullness of joy, eternal pleasures, salvation, and holistic healing.

The Pentecostal praise and worship heals, frees people from hatred, blues, and burden. It expels “demons” and attracts goodness, bending the arc of the universe toward the place. The saints use it to inspire and move the universe, to commune with Christ, and lift themselves into the throne room of God. The praise and worship does not just elevate worshipers to the heavens, it places deposits in the pores of their flesh, fire in their bones, and reweaves their souls. These charged sediments, electricity, serve as reminders of God’s faithfulness and their child-like playfulness before him.

The Pentecostal praise and worship is more alluring than the most beautiful idea or equation, more powerful than the most destructive weapons. It frees the human spirit. It almost gives the physical presence of the divine to the communal gathering. This is the power of the Pentecostal praise and worship. It cannot be expelled once its experiences, emotions, and meanings enter your blood. It is really a force that flows forever. It is inside of me. It is always calling me; calling me to jump into the stirred pool of Bethesda, the mighty rushing wind of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit-incubated waters of creation. Far away from the place, I hear your call! Do you hear it?

[1] Gabriel Okara’s poem, “The Call of River Nun” inspired this paragraph.

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Nimi Wariboko
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