Interesting experience in church today. During the singing parts of the service I generally close my eyes. I’ve done this for the better part of the year. There are several reasons I do it. The biggest is I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at when I’m singing. I know the words to the songs so I don’t need to read them on the big projected screen. Right above the lyrics is a video of the song leader or one of the other singers. I really don’t want to be watching them either. I could watch the stage but that also seems weird. In the past I’ve taken to watching the other members of the audience. But that was also quite distracting. So I close my eyes and sing.

Today we were singing a song and the lyrics went:

so we raise up holy hands
to praise the holy one

and I had to open my eyes at that point. Of course at that point probably 20% of the congregation did indeed have one or both hands raised up with their palms facing forward toward the stage and the band or else up toward the ceiling. There was something about seeing that, and the phrase holy hands from the song that gave me pause.

I know the phrase comes from Scripture. The actual verse is 1 Timothy 2:8 which states (in context in the NIV):

7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle— – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes…

I just think the phrase is odd. I decided to look up the word holy on Merriam-Webster Online to see what it says. They give several definitions:

1 : exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness

Are our hands worthy of complete devotion? Heh. You should see the crap that gets under my nails. No worshipping happening here.

2 : Divine

Um… no.

3 : devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity

Well…. this may be in the realm of possibility. On second thought – no. I’d love to think my hands are devoted entirely to God and to God’s work but I’m doubtful. Best to err on the side of caution. No holy hands by this definition.

4 : having a divine quality or venerated as or as if sacred

Divine hands? Venerated, sacred hands? I dunno….

Now part of this is from me being raised in a very stodgy, mainline Protestant denomination. No one would dare to raise their hands during a song. Heck we didn’t even have songs – we had hymns. So take my background into consideration but I’m not convinced raising my hands during worship is for me. I couldn’t do it without being self-conscious. I don’t want to question others’ motives but I hope they are doing it sincerely. The verse in question actually talks about raising hands during prayer not during singing. Why don’t people raise their hands in prayer then?

It seems to me that it could be emotionally-driven. I think our emotions have their place and they were certainly created by God. But I’ve seen firsthand that our emotions are not always an accurate reflection of reality. I can feel like someone is indifferent to or even hates me. That may be the truth but it could just as easily be inaccurate. I don’t want my emotions leading they way when it comes to prayer and worship.