Today, I heard a sound in worship that I had never heard before in all my years in worship ministry. It left me completely in awe of God.
Here’s the context.
This weekend, Faith Community Church is having its Intentional Disciplemaking Church Conference (IDMC). Intentional disciplemaking is one of the redemptive gifts which FCC brings to the church in Perth. I sensed that for FCC, this wasn’t just another conference, it was a defining moment for the church as it moves into its next season of growth.
As some of you may know, I was recently accepted into FCC’s worship team. My first rostered session is actually on 16 September. But last night, after the first session of the Conference, Pastor Yoy Alberastine came up to me and asked if I could back-up sing for him because he was going to lead the worship at the start of the Young Working Adults and Family Zone Plenary Session (which happened this morning). He said together, we’d blow the roof off the place. I love it when Yoy talks like this. What he means is that God was going to visit, so I agreed, and this became my first time on-stage at FCC. And what a memorable occasion it was.
As the session began this morning, Pastor Yoy encouraged the congregation to give their all in worship. He said that the realm of the dance wasn’t exclusive to the youth, and that he had been in camps where elderly people would dance before the Lord for an hour without stopping. So he encouraged the congregation to come before the Lord without any inhibitions. It was great to see the adult members of FCC coming down to occupy the “mosh pit”.
I believe that this set the scene for what was to come.
As we went into our last song “Consuming Fire” there was suddenly a sense of outpouring of God’s presence that was unmistakable. It was as if the Holy Spirit was responding to our cries of “there must be more than this” and “Lord, let Your glory fall”. And as we broke into free worship, the congregation began to sing out and pray spontaneously.
And here was the unusual sound that I heard: rising up from the open singing and prayer, I heard loud chanting, the sound of a crowd roaring. I couldn’t make out any distinct words, and it was like nothing I’ve heard before. The closest thing I could describe it as was that it was similar to a bunch of soccer hooligans at Wembley stadium chanting together.
My first reaction was that there was something wrong with my earpiece, so I stopped singing. Then I thought maybe it was our East Timor missionary praising loudly at the front (he was such an inspiring sight!), but then it couldn’t have been the sound of just one person. I thought I was just hearing things in my head, but I didn’t really want it to stop. The roar was rising.
At the end of the session, I asked if Yoy heard what I heard as well. Without batting an eyelid, he said “when the heavenly hosts join in worship, it’s a completely different thing.” Could it be that angels sang with us this morning?
I thought maybe it was just the two of us who heard the sound , so I asked a few other people. My wife Ling heard it too, and so did another friend of mine in our cell group. Others whom I asked did not hear anything unusual.
Now, I am convinced that for the first time ever, I’ve heard the sound of the heavenly hosts joining us in congregational worship.
It was significant for two reasons. Personally, I felt as if God was affirming to me, “you are in the right place”. And secondly, it was as if the favour of God was pouring out over FCC in this new season as if saying to the church, “you are heading in the right direction”.
I now have a greater insight into Zephaniah 3:17:
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
I have always believed this in a metaphorical sense, but now I believe that supernaturally, God can and does audibly sing over HIs people to tell them that He is delighting in their worship; that as He joins in our singing, He is bringing us into His eternal perichoresis.