Every time I hear Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot’s new single, I Gotta Praise, I just feel this burning urge to respond to it. Paul Heaton was in the Housemartins and then the Beautiful South and I have been a big fan of both. He has a knack for writing catchy songs with witty and ironic lyrics. And from time to time he has commented on organised religion. The chorus of this one goes – ‘I wanna worship, I gotta praise, spend all my minutes and waste all my days.’ The video features him playing a vicar and visiting Jacqui Abbot in a women’s prison.
The thing that I want to say to this song is that he’s bang on. Everybody does want to worship. Worship is only spending time, energy and resources on the thing you love/need/respect etc. Whether it be sport, cars, working out, heroes, other people, DIY, baking, science… everybody has this urge to dedicate themselves to something. And that’s surely what worship is. We all ‘waste days’ on things that we are devoted to, we can’t help it. What’s that old joke about football? It’s not life and death – it’s way more important than that. That’s a description of worship. Reckoning something to be more important then our mortality. In that sense worship is the most natural thing in the world for us.
And you know what? The writers of the Bible encourage us to spend our energy, time and resources on the Creator, because when we do that we develop a relationship that enables us to discover more of who we are, who he is, why we are here, and about the mysteries and struggles of life. ‘Jesus became a man, was humble and walked on this earth, experiencing life and death. And for that reason God raised him to the highest place, so that everyone will bow in worship and call out in praise that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God our loving, heavenly father.’ [Philippians 2 verses 5-11] We’re not told we have to be good at it, I’m certainly not, I’m pretty rubbish at it, but we’re just invited to have a go. Take a single, faltering step. ‘Stop, pause, take a break,’ says Psalm 46 verse 10, ‘and sense, become aware, remember – that I am God.’
I came across an interesting phrase recently – a guy called Eugene Peterson said, ‘When we try and understand ourselves, by ourselves, then we miss most of ourselves.’ Worshipping our creator, ‘wasting’ our time just stopping and focusing on the one who is massive, yet as close as breathing, enables us to discover that part of us which is hidden in God. So if you should hear Paul Heaton’s latest catchy number, feel free to do what I do, shout at the radio and say, ‘Absolutely, Mr Heaton, we all gotta worship.’
Warning – listen to this song and you may well find it gets it lodged in your head, it’s ridiculously catchy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…