Friday, November 4, 2016

Ezra 3:11-13 -- On Emotion and Worship

"And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off."
Ezra 3:11-13

This is a reaction to laying the foundation of the temple, and it is awesome.  Crying and shouting for joy at the same time, because it was such an amazing, spiritual, emotional thing for them.  It reminds me of many times in the Book of Mormon when people are overcome with the spirit to the point where they actually physically fell over and couldn't speak.  Amazing stuff.  And what I was thinking about while reading this is how much emotion matters in our spirituality and worship.

It's a hard thing to understand sometimes for us, because emotion can be confusing and overwhelming, and sometimes it gets so hard or stressful that we'd opt for the Vulcan ideal of pure logic if we could.  And yet, the scriptures talk over and over about the heart.  D&C 64:34 says "Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind" and we read in several other places that we need broken hearts and contrite spirits.

Feeling the spirit is something that is different for different people, and even different from experience to experience sometimes.  It can be thoughts or memories popping into our heads, it can be words coming out of our mouths that we didn't put there, it can be a voice actually speaking to us, and sometimes it is just pure emotion... peace, or love, or overwhelming joy coming clearly from a source outside ourselves, calming our own feelings and helping us feel better about the whole world. Even when it is thoughts or words though, it is paired with emotion... perhaps why it is called "feeling" the spirit.  God makes sense, don't get me wrong... I'm not saying we should ignore other evidences of God.  I'm just saying that we can't worship or serve God without emotion.  The first commandment, after all, is to love God.  He's asking us to learn this emotion stuff, and helping us master it.  He sets the example.  1 John 4:19: "We love him, because he first loved us."

Today, let's learn and embrace the emotion of worship instead of trying to be purely logical followers.  Let's look to God as we pray, and be open to his love.

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