You noticed her because she was different. She sometimes sang off key. She sang certain words louder, for emphasis. But her raising of her hands, her body language, were all appropriate. She was really worshipping her God in song. She inspired my own worship. I worshipped God better that day because she was in the congregation. A young girl, I believe she has Down’s syndrome.

I couldn’t help but think of David’s worship of the Lord in 2 Samuel 6:

Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:12–15 NIV)

David was so conscious of the holiness and love of God that he couldn’t take more than six steps before bursting forth in dance. I am sure this uninhibited exuberant dance was not mentioned in the King’s Handbook. But who cares? He was just so conscious of the presence of God that he could not do otherwise.

David wasn’t dancing in the nude, as some popular depictions have made him out to be. He was wearing a linen ephod, the uniform of a priest. A priest is one who leads people into God’s presence, and by David’s exuberant dance worship that was what he was doing.

So much of corporate worship has become a science. We can now be trained to organise corporate worship in a way that helps people encounter God. Indeed, corporate worship has become an industry that sells you all the hardware and software you need to organise “exciting worship services”. While I appreciate the tools we now have, I sometimes wonder if we have we lost something in the process?

I am not sure how much of the worship hardware and software the young girl could appreciate that day as she sang unto the Lord. She was just conscious of her God and offered a pure unadulterated response to Him. Like King David, she led us into God’s presence.

I was preaching on the Christmas story for that worship service. I was reminded afresh that the privilege of carrying the promised Messiah into the world came to a young “unknown girl” (Mary was about 15 years old?) in a small town, Nazareth. When that same Christ returns we will find out who are the really important people. I think there will be many surprises. I think the young girl who inspired our worship that day will be very high up on His honours list.