Imagine the scene with me, if you can.
We’re standing in a large auditorium at a concert with over 2000 other people.
Our hands are held aloft in expectation.
The bass drops and the next track builds. In recognition, an anthem rises from the masses, and we sing in unity:
“You’re not alone, I’ll wait till the end of time.
Open your mind, Surely it’s plain to see
You’re not alone…”
Is this the latest powerful worship track from Hillsong, soon to be sung in churches across the land? No; in this case the venue is Birmingham Symphony Hall, we’re experiencing The Annual Classical from the Ministry of Sound, and the crowd is in awe as a mix of classical music and thumping dance rhythms takes us back to what we wished we had been doing when we were a lot younger.
As I stand amazed, my fellow raver turns to me and whispers, “It looks like you are worshiping, Paul”.
Worship? Here we are, listening to the house and trance tracks which drove an acid-filled, hedonistic generation to frenzy in dance clubs across the UK. The music stirs me, but I worry about the idea that this could be worship. Could God really speak through the noise? Is He really present in this place, and at this time?
We continue singing.
“It is the distance, that makes life a little hard
Two minds that once were close, Now so many miles apart
I will not falter though, I’ll hold on till you’re home
Safely back where you belong, And see how our love has grown…”
My mind takes me back to when the track we’re singing was released. My wife and I were newly weds, trying to work out how we could build a home together; how we could connect our families; how we would manage the careers which would support us and not lose one another; how we would live as Christians within our community; how we could link to others and offer welcome even though we were not great at being gregarious. Much has happened since – a move to Worcester, 2 children, 3 church changes, loss of loved ones – and through it all I now see God’s active protection and blessing as we built some things which are good and excellent, and others which broke to dust.
The chorus lifts the crowd one more time:
“You’re not alone, I’ll wait till the end of time for you
Open your mind, Surely there’s time to be with me.”
Eyes closed and heart thumping, I acknowledge God’s presence filling the room and, with a thankful heart, praise him for his goodness.