Posted on October 15, 2010 by Samuel
One Sunday morning in Edmonton, Canada, the congregation of McClure United Church was surprised as nine clowns entered the sanctuary to the taped music of “Send in the Clowns”. The clowns, who included the church pastor, then proceeded to pantomime the worship service. The audience responded enthusiastically with bursts of laughter and applause.
One of the clowns performed a liturgical dance during the service. The communion was also mimed. Pastor Lochhead reported that the service was “very meaningful for people” and there’s no reason why a place of worship can’t be fun and frivolous at times. No one in the congregation reported having problems with the service. “I don’t think we can take ourselves seriously all the time,” said Lochhead.
Perhaps, it is needless to say that I have a problem with this even if Pastor Lochhead’s congregation does not. Worship is not a trivial matter. Biblical worship is a meeting between sinful people and a holy God. To be in the presence of God is to stand on holy ground. We are meeting with the Creator of the universe. In the words of Hebrews 12:18-24, “For you have not come to what may be touched . . . But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews is saying that the attitude of our worship should be this: understand that worship is a sacred meeting between you and the Living God.
Our culture’s infatuation with entertainment and motivational speeches has caused too many church services to become informal, upbeat, pep rallies. This merging of the culture and the church has caused too many Christians to believe that worship in the Old Testament was formal and reverent, while worship in the New Testament is spontaneous. This is absolutely false.
As the worshipping community, we come to serve the Lord. Our attitude is to be one of reverence and awe. As we assemble, we do so in a mood that gathers our thoughts and sets them aside for the worship of the living God. Clowns may be very appropriate for other forms of ministry. Worship, however, is no time to “clown around.”