Anytime Worship

Jesus said, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." 
 ~Luke 19:40

There was an old tree that had fallen across the creek.  Like a carpet of green, moss covered the one place where Kareling sat.  Soft and cool in the shade on this summer day, she let her feet dip down into the trickling water that tickled her toes.  There wasn't a care in the world, and no one to hear so Kareling sang the song that often came to her lips:

"All creatures of our God and King, 
lift up your voice and with us sing
alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam, 
thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heav'n along,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice,
ye lights of evening find a voice,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear.
make music for thy Lord to hear,
alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
that giveth man both warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

With each stanza the voice grew louder and became brighter.  An extraordinary gift, Kareling's voice was beauty itself.  Often, it was her voice that would be asked to sing at special events.  To her grandmother's urgings Kareling would sing and remember what her grandmother would say.  "This is a gift to you, Kareling.  It has been given to you by Someone greater than all of us.  For that reason you must sing, not just for others enjoyment, but for His glory."

Kareling began to rise from her position on the tree.  Her arms reaching out as if to touch the world next to her.  Now standing on the fallen tree, she swayed to the rhythm of the song, arms stretched up as high as possible with her fingers wiggling as if to dance with delight.  

Her grandfather had been sitting in the shadow of the woods, listening.  He delighted in Kareling's voice because it also brought him to a place of worship.   As he came out of his place in the shadows his voice joined in on the melody.  The old grandfather had come looking for Kareling.  He knew that she was in the woods as often was her practice.  There was peace in this forest and with the music of nature one couldn't help but open the mouth in chorus.

"And all ye men of tender heart,
forgiving others take your part,
O sing ye, alleluia!
Ye, who long pain and sorrow bear, 
praise God and on him cast your care,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Surprise and delight showed on Kareling's face.  She didn't notice in the corner of the old grandfather's eye, a small tear slithering down his cheek.  He was old enough to know that life was not carefree and yet joyful in the delight of his granddaughter.  This was a meaningful moment, one to be treasured in the recesses of the mind.  It would be this picture that he would pull out in the coming days and it would sustain him through the coming troubles.  

Then, as the grandfather came up to his beloved Kareling, they sang together the very last of it.  The old man lifted his granddaughter to the ground and their hands held fast.  Not wanting to let go they walked together, hand in hand and up the hill, singing:

"Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, three in one,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, allelluia!
~ Francis of Assisi, 1225

Their home was nestled on the edge of the east forest.  Calming and reassuring, the woods would beckon to them to come and be refreshed.  It was a particular enticement because to the south of the cottage was the land of the enemy.  There were times that the family would have to run to the woods for safety as the enemy would find opportunity to come close.  Of course, this hadn't happened of late as the warriors had been patrolling in the south.  Still, the old grandfather was on edge.  He could sense a growing disturbance in the air.  His bones felt anxious and he often looked over his shoulder.

Kareling did not know any of this for she was still a young girl.  She did wonder from time to time about what her grandfather and grandmother would whisper about.  And she couldn't help but notice that when she went to the woods her grandfather would always be close.  At first the young girl shrugged it off and let the thought fly away with the wind.  Today, however, was different.  As the girl and her grandfather crested the hill they saw flames shooting up from the cottage.  Turning and bending down to her level, the old man quickly and quietly said to Kareling, "Run to the forest!  Climb the tall tree next to the clump of boulders.  Climb to the very top and wait there until I come for you.  Don't come down for anyone but me and don't let anyone see you.  Should I not return by nightfall make your way to the castle and tell them what has happened."  Her grandfather then turned and ran faster than his age allowed towards the cottage.

Kareling did as she was told to do.  Back to the forest as fast as she could, slipping and sliding down the hill, stumbling over rocks and limbs until she came to the very tree her grandpapa had instructed her to go to.  Like a monkey she climbed until she reached the very top of the tree that would sustain her weight.  This was at the tippy top of the tree as Kareling was a very small girl.  She did sway a bit with the limbs in the wind but this didn't bother her as it gave her a feeling of weightlessness.  The very top of the tree also afforded Kareling the ability to see the cottage, her home for the last 9 years.  She couldn't remember a time when it wasn't.  Now it was burning to the ground and she could see many of the enemy's soldiers circling the cottage watching it go up in flames.  She quietly sang a couple of stanzas from the previous song to give her courage:

Ye, who long pain and sorrow bear, 
praise God and on him cast your care,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

As a single tear slipped from her eye down her cheek she continued her praises with prayers in-between to ask for help, guidance and peace in the tumultuous moments.  In reality, she was much too young to face this large of a tragedy.  But such was her lot and she would try and be as big a girl as she could.  The young one hoped with everything in her that her grandfather, with her grandmother, would come shortly.  But if not, she was not without instruction and would improvise if need be.

This was to be the month, the very week in fact, that Kareling would have started her riding lessons.  For every girl in the kingdom would be taught to ride the horse and ride it well.  She had been on horses a number of times but still would not be considered a good rider.  This day and the next would be her trial by fire.  She could see a number of grandfather's horses finding shelter in the woods.  Her grandpapa must have gotten to the barn to let them loose.  The young girl tried not to think of the well being of her grandparents.  She knew they were wise and would make the best decision possible but what would that be?  

As Kareling looked into the woods she strained to see if her favorite horse was there.  This particular horse seemed to know and like her best.  If she could find this one it would be the very ride she would take to the castle.  But caution and wariness was to be the guide.  The enemy was close and she wouldn't want to be seen.

Always, always a song was in Kareling's head.  It was a gift.  A gift that would bring her to the highs of great praise but also something that was a very help to her in the times of deep valley sorrows.  Soon the young girl would start singing a battle song because the night was coming and she would need to ride the fastest horse to the castle.  There would be no time to think of sorrow or worshipful songs.  It would be a time of determination and strength.  She might be young but she did understand that the courage and fortitude she needed would be coming from Someone other than herself.  

The song was starting to rise now. With it her hands and feet she started the decent down the tree.  As each tree limb passed the resolve became stronger not to look to that what is seen but to that which is unseen.  Therefore, these words came quickly.  And even though she had to be quiet the words of the song blasted in her mind:

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and pow'r are great, and armed with cruel hate, 
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus, it is he,
Lord Sabbath his name, and age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 
we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo! hi doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly pow'rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are our through him who with us sited.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; 
the body they may kill; God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever."
                 ~ Martin Luther, 1529

*The world is filled with many evils this is true.  But we are told not to be overcome with evil but to overcome evil with good.  This is our battle.  Each of us have specific gifts to help us in the battle of life.  Yet, there is a particular instrument that God has given to all of us and that is the gift of worship.  In worship there is a  moment when one can forget about oneself and focus on that One who is so much more and so deserving of our praise.  It can be quiet wonderful and transport you to another level altogether.  This can only really be done when the words to the song are those that speak of God and His glory.  None of this "I, me, my" stuff will do as that only will put the focus on humanity and what is needed is something better than humanity.

However, this will mean nothing unless you are a follower of Christ.  We were made as worshipful beings.   So, we all will worship something (I am speaking of a life of worship now, not so much just singing).  But the truth of the matter is this:  We were created to worship God.  To do anything else brings destruction and death.  Maybe not right away but sooner or later it will come.  Jesus Christ is the only one who can fill that cup of worship.  Because of that, trying to fill it with something other will only lead to frustration and despair. 

May you find, today, the One who is so worthy of your praise and live a life of worship for Him.  Then, sing as if no one is watching.  Let the song transport  you to another place and enjoy the moment.   Be worship happy!

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