One of my personal hobbies is to study the philosophy and history of other faiths. In my studies, I have been able to identify many points of convergence with my own Christian Faith, and even recognize particular threads of expectation, which find their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.
Not only do I study religions in order to identify where Christ is expected, but also as a way to recognize what we as Christians have lost on our way to being enlightened by the Gospel.
For instance, one of the things that I love about the “Hare Krishnas” is the joy that they express when celebrating the name of their deity. “Hare” means “the omnipotence of god,” and “Krishna” means “all attractive.” It is customary for the “Hare Krishnas” to play music and dance for hours, and this while only using the name of their deity as the lyrics.
The reason why they rejoice so much in the name of their deity, is because they believe that their deity is intrinsically and essentially present wherever his name is proclaimed.
Now think about it…Let’s say that our Lord Jesus Christ suddenly appeared before you. Would you sing melancholic songs, or would you make a joyful noise? Would you be thinking about complicated lyrics, or would you rather sing the name of Jesus with Hallelujahs and Hosannas? Would you stand as still as a stick with your hymnal in hand? Or would you throw the hymnal aside, raise your hands and begin to dance for joy?
Christ promised that where two or three gathered in his name, that he would be there. (Matthew 18:20) Christ is present in, with and under the Holy Sacrament. (1 Corinthians 10:16) If this is so, why don’t many Christians celebrate with heart-felt joy? Shouldn’t we be ecstatic about the Gospel?
I am an advocate for the historical Liturgy of the Church. I believe that the Liturgy reminds us of the formal worship performed by the angels in the heavenly court. (Isaiah 6) That type of worship reminds us of the honor that is due to the King of Kings.
Interestingly, God did not only give to Moses a stately form of worship, but he also gave the Israelites the command to rejoice in His Name through informal feasts and celebrations. In fact, God even allowed for the Israelites to buy “fermented drink” in order to aid their rejoicing. (Deuteronomy 14:26)
Paul’s injunction to “rejoice” is based on the understanding that Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us, and that in Christ, not only do we have eternal life, but also become the rightful heirs of all creation. (Phil. 4:4; 1Cor. 3:21-22; 5:7) Now what do you think would be the proper reaction to such good news? Ephesians 5:18-20 says:
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Western Christendom should throw away its ever-growing industry of secular-sounding, “Praise and Worship” rock songs and develop simple songs that unites the congregation in joyful rhythms that celebrate the true presence of Christ in the assembly of believers. Opportunities should also be made available for those who dance, to choreograph simple moves that express holy joy and be easily taught. The Church can have its High Masses AND its Celebrative Feasts!
Psalm 149:3 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and making music to him with tambourine and harp.
When the Western Church begins to celebrate the name of Christ with the simple fervor and joy of the early Church, we’ll begin to see the same miracles that we read about in the book of Acts, and hear about among the persecuted Christians in the East.
In the meantime, I am grateful to the Hare Krishnas for reminding me of what we’re missing and I am open to learning from them as they also learn from us. I am literally convinced that in many ways, we are family.
I pray that one day they come to the full realization of that final and most glorious incarnation of the “Beautiful, Omnipotent God” that is fully found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!