There is always a risk with these big events that all the circumstantial stuff on the periphery crowds out the heart of the matter. But that was certainly not the case this time. The heart of the matter was worshipping Jesus Christ, and with the worship leadership of Darlene, the Hillsong musicians and the EO Ronduit facilities we certainly got into deep worship and in such a huge crowd in a large stadium that is an awesome experience.
It was much better than I expected. I only knew Hillsong by reputation. My impression of Darlene Zschech was that she was a rather serene worship performer. The pictures on her site give that impression. But she was not like that at all. She is a gutsy Australian lady. And she is one fire with love for Jesus and does not mind letting everyone know. So the music, the singing and the message was really powerful. But above all it was authentic worship and God acknowledged that with His presence.
The theme of authenticity in worship came up earlier in the evening. Linda Wagenmakers was in the support programme and closed with a song on the theme of authenticity in worship - it does not matter how you worship, but your worship should be authentic, from your heart and not a matter of following rules or customs.
Darlene made the comment that she is getting wilder and looser as she gets older. She just wants to let out her love for Jesus in praising and worshipping Him. And if in the process she looks silly dancing around the stage, she doesn't care.
The programme led us through themes of joy and sacrifice in worship, the price paid by Jesus on the cross for our salvation, the power and glory of God, us being the people of God, loving Him and His love for us. We prayed for revival. That filling a football stadium with worship of God, rather than worship of a ball, should not be an occasional event, but that the stadiums and cathedrals of Europe should be regularly filled with worshipping Christians.
Darlene encouraged worship even when we were not actually feeling good, put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3). Reminded me of what I was reading in Colossians 3 yesterday following One Year Bible Blog, where I interpreted Paul as writing: "We are to clothe ourselves with Christ's way of life, live as He lived at a deeper more integrated level than just a regular WWJD check. We are to become as Christ."
We did some of that at the Gelredome last night. We gathered in thousands as His people. We focussed on Him. We shouted and sang our love, worship and praise of Him. We heard His Word. We shared in the life of His Body. OK, there is a whole circus around it of sound systems and light shows, worship leaders and bands from Australia, flying into NL from Kiev to for the event, even a commercial break with ads from travel agents, political parties and Christian radio stations. But at the heart of the matter we worshipped God in a big way, and in our culture and infrastructure, it is actually easier to do that in a stadium than in a cathedral.
Lots of pictures on credible.nl