I was sending a text to our organist with a suggestion for the postlude on Sunday. Since we were reflecting on the Fruit of the Spirit—specifically joy—I thought it would be fun to do an upbeat version of the Vacation Bible School song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (Where?), down in my heart…” While typically sung by Sunday School children of an earlier generation (like mine!), with energetic motions accompanying the words, I knew our musician could jazz it up and send us to our homes with a song in our hearts. I adore the microphone feature on my phone which enables me to simply speak a message into written existence. Her name is Siri. But I’ve also learned that I need to proof her work! She reinterprets my dictation and sometimes spits out some nonsensical messages. So I looked over my message and was glad I did: “We will be talking about Joy as one of the gifts of the Spirit this Sunday. I wonder if you can begin your post lewd with the children’s song, ‘I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart’?”
Siri had perverted my text: post lewd. Our organist could not produce a lewd postlude if we paid him to—which we don’t! Sometimes I think that Siri has a sense of humor!
Music is probably the single most uplifting feature of our worship on a regular basis. We do lots of other things in worship that are meaningful and remind us that we have intentionally come into God’s holy presence. All the elements to a good worship service flow together thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. But the most common take-away from a Sunday morning service is a song in our hearts. Post lewd? Not so much!
I have to confess this typo brought to mind a Simpsons episode I saw a million years ago. Church is portrayed in a fairly positive light on this show, even if Bart and Homer don’t always go with the purest of intentions. In one episode Bart has switched up the opening hymn by putting the musical score to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in front of the unsuspecting organist. She appears to be in her 90’s but is ready to go when the pastor invites the congregation to stand and join in singing the opening hymn. She pounds on the organ and the song by Iron Butterfly sounds throughout the sanctuary. Of course, Bart had handed out hymn sheets with made-up lyrics so the throng of believers follows the lead of the poor organist by singing the words, “In the garden of Eden, bay-by, don’t you know that I lo-o-ove you…” The music seems to have a grip on the organist who keeps playing with flailing appendages and an increased sense of exhaustion. It’s a train wreck and Bart snickers as he observes worship gone awry, his own creation. The scene ends with the poor organist collapsing on the organ keys at the conclusion of the piece and Rev. Lovejoy (really!) threatening the Sunday School class with eternal punishment if someone doesn’t confess to the dastardly deed. (Millhouse turns Bart in.)
As ridiculous as this scenario is, we know how easy it is for the ways of the world to traipse through our ecclesiastical doors on a Sunday morning and corrupt our holy intentions. Somehow the script is flipped, the hedonism of the culture seeps in and the glory we had intended to offer to God fizzles into self-righteous chanting. Post lewd. The sacred is defiled.
We must vigorously protect the integrity of this thing we call worship. Before we even enter the church building we ask God to enable us to open our hearts to new truths that we might hear in worship. We pray for God to use us to minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ in that particular church family. We humble ourselves through a prayer of confession, acknowledging that we have not acted with the kind of purity we had hoped for when we left the last service. The lewdness of the world may have tripped us up or drawn us in somehow. We come clean so that the rest of the conversation with God during worship can be authentic and grateful. We make a joyful noise in praise of our God, losing ourselves in hymns that reverberate to the core of our being. We listen intently to the reading of scripture, inviting the Spirit not just to confirm what we already believe but to challenge us to more profound areas of service. We pray for the sermon to speak to our heart and the offering to be relinquished freely from our hands. Finally, we allow the postlude to send us into another week full of joy. Because what happens at our church on a Sunday morning doesn’t stay at our church! We carry our love for Christ into a world that has learned to expect the vulgar and overlook discord. Thanks for the good laugh, Siri, for there shall be no post lewd from our church organist! Rather we will revert to the strains of a childlike faith that is instructive to us in our adult world: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! (Where?) Down in my heart! (Where?) Down in my heart! I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart—down in my heart to stay!”