Tap-tap, tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap: annoying sounds? Maybe, but it could mean much more.
Captain Eugene ‘Red’ McDaniel tapped on the walls of his cell in the Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp commonly known as the Hanoi Hilton. The taping was a secret code prisoners used to communicate with each other. The number one rule at the Hilton was: “No communication with other prisoners at any time.” Anyone caught in the attempt would be tortured or executed.
Isolation was the prime weapon of the communist captors. As the hours slowly turned into days and weeks, Captain McDaniel came to fear the loneliness and the silence far more than any threats of physical harm. The highlight of each day was being taken to the washroom where he occasionally managed to whisper briefly with two other Americans brought in at the same time. They told him about the camp code, a series of taps to spell out letters. McDaniel in his book, “Scars and Stripes” came to recognize the code as his lifeline and only link with sanity.
If a new prisoner couldn’t learn the code and communicate with fellow prisoners within thirty days of arrival, he would gradually begin to draw inward and deteriorate. Captain McDaniel saw nearly fifty of America’s best trained enter isolation never to be heard from again. As the days dragged on, a prisoner would slowly lose any will to live. “Little by little,” McDaniel wrote, “he would deteriorate as that strange predator… isolation, would suck the very life out of him.”
Tap-tap, tap-tap-tap: annoying sounds or vital communication?
What do secret codes and POW’s have to do with worship? One word: communication. Worship represents one of our best opportunities to communicate with God. Without it, the spiritual part of our being will begin to draw inward, deteriorate and die. More than just a hymn, a sermon and a prayer, worship is the camp code that becomes our lifeline and can at times be our only link with sanity.
Worship is about ordinary people with the struggles, hopes, sufferings and joys that come with everyday life. Combined with a discipline of daily devotion, and outreach to our neighbor, worship should be something that can involve us all, but it takes commitment.
We don’t always feel that way. I hear: “I don’t get anything out of worship.” Followed by a complaint about the pastor or the music. People say they feel like bystanders. But worship should be a possible turning point in your life not something to endure.
Worship is a human response to a divine revelation. Tap-tap: through the quietness of prayer. Tap-tap-tap: through singing a song. Tap-tap-tap-tap: through the prophetic words of a sermon. Worship is the camp code for vital communication with God.
One person wrote this about worship: Most of the time we think of church and worship as an obligation but there are also times especially during a crisis when we come to worship looking for answers, comfort and a dose of hope. Occasionally, something or someone comes along that makes our worship fresh and exciting. We begin to experience anew the excitement of a relationship with God. We pick up the Bible and blow off the dust and begin to read again. We renew our prayer lives. We reach out to our neighbor. We volunteer for a project or mission.
One church was concerned about improving worship. So, a few of the members gathered along with the pastor and spent several evenings discussing the purpose of worship. They studied Scripture, prayed, read a chapter from a book on worship and concluded that worship was “for the love of God.” Then they all prayed how they would each make difference for the love of God.
For the love of God…
- One volunteered to place fresh-cut flowers in the worship area.
- Another volunteered to come early and dust the sanctuary.
- The pastor volunteered to prepare fewer formal sermons with practical illustrations.
- They closed each service with everyone holding hands in prayer.
- They decided to take communion to the homebound.
For the Love of God… what can you do to make your worship more meaningful?
Worship — Tap-tap, tap-tap-tap: annoying sounds or vital communication?