On Youth Camp, Language and Learning to Live out Worship
By Natalie Meeks
Have you ever heard the expression “Deeper than Words?”
Words matter. The Bible tells us that our Lord is the Living Word. Yet, while Truth is found in the words God uses to teach us, it’s possible to get overly technical and miss the spirit and heart of a subject. This is especially true with words in our native language.
Words like WORSHIP.
So much of the time, our experiences and familiarity dominate our understanding. Words may lose their depth of meaning. This calls for a different approach.
Last weekend, BBI President Chuck Kelley traveled to Ergli, Latvia to teach 50 teens about worship at Eagle’s Wings Spring Camp. Over the course of one day and two talks, they unpacked seven Hebrew words for worship/praise found in the Old Testament.
This wasn’t your run of the mill vocabulary lesson. Together they went deeper than the words. They realized them.
“It’s easy for us to define worship as something that takes place at church at a certain time. But Biblical worship is more than a noun. It’s a verb. In fact, there are many words that describe worship in the Bible.” – Chuck Kelley
Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?
HALAL: (verb): to be boastful, to acclaim; to glory in; to be excited in joy.” (Psalm 111:1)
Halal means praise. And yet, it means much, much more! Halal is a SHOUT of triumph. It is a celebration. It is contagious joy unrestrained. It’s praise in motion.
Our creative lesson commenced with Chuck asking the kids to repeat a Hebrew word for worship after him, beginning with: Halal. After extrapolating the nuances of meaning…the noun, it was time to dig into the process and effect…the verb.First, they were given a relatable illustration from youth culture in order to help them to better understand it. Next, seven teens lined up on the stage – one volunteer for each word, tasked to be its loud and lively representative. The kids were assigned the roles of embodying the action of the word.
Halal belted out in praise by way of an older teen boy, chanting what fans chant after the Latvian national team wins a huge match… “LAT-VI-A!! LAT-VI-A!! LAT-VI-A!!”
Yadah sang in the voice of another teenage boy…crooning the verses of the Latvian Table Grace song.
Barak knelt in the form of a young girl, in repetition – Stand. Bow low. Stand. Bow low, etc.
Zamar strummed forth as a teen girl strapped on her guitar and continually played her favorite praise song.
Shabah raised up and up to the Heavens in the extended arms of a 6’6” young man, palms up, as if he were swaying to the music at a rock concert.
Rua exclaimed joy when Eagle’s Wings Director Diks Bortnikov’s daughter, Marite stood in place and shouted “Wow! Wow! Wow!”
Quara proclaimed the Good News we all must hear and heed: “Now here this! Now here this! Now here this!”
Finally, in a cacophonous orchestra of worship, for 30 seconds, all seven words were lived out, acted upon, sung, shouted and realized in unison. At that moment, whether on the stage or on the Lodge floor, fifty teens learned, laughed and worshiped together.
Words + Action = Reality.
The greatest truth and resting place of our hope is in the Word Incarnate. But we must remember that our words can become incarnate too. Especially the word WORSHIP. Let’s realize it together.