Disco Church on Deck 11

[I]t may be the most unusual spot I’ve ever worship God in.  It was certainly the one with the most bar stools.

For years my wife Jeannine and I had wanted to go on a cruise.  So when we were invited to go on a family reunion cruise with about twenty members of the Ottati clan, we enthusiastically accepted.  The voyage was a 5-day/4-night western Caribbean adventure.  We disembarked from south Florida aboard the ocean liner Monarch of the Seas.  Our merry group included two pastors and one seminary student in training for the ministry.  Since we would all be away from our home churches over the weekend we decided it would be fun to hold a worship service on-board the ship.

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Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

We asked the activities desk if there was a room available that could accommodate twenty people or so where we could hold a mid-morning service.  The only space available was the Disco Lounge on deck 11.  All the other public areas were in use.  So we gathered in the Disco Lounge at the back of the ship to worship.

Reclining on lounge chairs and art deco couches near the wet bar, we sang hymns and praise songs together.  Then we moved out to the dance floor—not to exhibit our smooth moves, but to play a round of Bible charades for the kids in our group.  Under the mirrored disco ball we silently acted out famous stories from scripture and let the children guess who we were portraying.  The smiles and laughter that followed were contagious.  After charades we settled back into the lounge furniture for a few thoughts on friendship with God shared by the seminary student.  We ended with another song and a prayer.

As we passed the neon signs on our way out, I stopped for one last look at the Disco Lounge.  For a short while this place of usually swirling lights and pounding beats became an uncommon sanctuary to worship God in.  For a few fleeting moments this dance hall had been turned into a hallowed house of prayer.  An unconventional spot to glorify God?  Perhaps.  But throughout history there have been some pretty unusual places where people have worshiped their creator.

Daniel worshiped God in a lion’s den.  Job worshiped God in an ash heap.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshiped God in a fiery furnace.  Paul and Silas worshiped God in a prison.  David worshiped God in a cave.  Shepherds and wise men worshiped God in a barn.

So where is the best place to worship God?

Any place is a good place to worship God.  You don’t have to be in a church, temple or cathedral.  The ancient scriptures make it pretty simple, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NRSV)  No specific location is required.  You might be in an office, in your car, in a hospital room, in a boardroom, in your bedroom or on a mountainside.  Anyplace is a good place to draw near to God.

Now don’t get me wrong, church is a wonderful place to worship God.  It’s a special place dedicated to deepening the spiritual bond between God and his friends.  But don’t wait for church to draw near to God.  Take every opportunity you have.  Wherever friends of God gather to worship him, he is there.  Whenever you draw near to God, he will draw near to you.  Anyplace can be a holy place if God is invited there.  You don’t need to have a pastor or seminary student nearby like we did on our cruise.  You don’t even have to sing hymns or play Bible charades.  Just come to God with an open and grateful heart.  Right where you are. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you.

“Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him.  Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!”  1 Chronicles 16:29 NKJV

Question: What is the coolest / best / most unusual place you’ve ever worshiped God in? (Share your thoughts in the comments)

 

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