Monday, December 9, 2013

Gratefulness, Reverence and Awe




We sang this in church Sunday morning and it has been running through my head ever since.  It is an old hymn, yet not one I was familiar with... definitely need to listen to it enough to learn it.

The last few days I have been meditating through Hebrews chapter 12.  At the end of that chapter the author describes the fear of the Israelites as they approached the mountain of God with Moses, and compares that to our approach to Mount Zion with Christ.  Fire and smoke and the realization that if they or any animal touched it they would die... compared to "but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." 

The contrast in these two worlds is quite remarkable.  Approach with my own righteousness and find fear and death, or approach with the righteousness of Christ and find eternal life.  The writer then goes on to say that physical things, such as the mountain of Moses, will be shaken and destroyed, but the kingdom we receive cannot be shaken.  He ends the chapter with, "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

How often is our worship like that?  Gratefulness, reverence, awe - those are apparently part of acceptable worship.  As enjoyable as it is, contemporary worship is rarely reverent.  But mechanically singing old hymns is not grateful and there is no awe there.  Maybe worship is not what we typically think it is.  Gratefulness, reverence, awe - they seem to describe the attitude of the heart, not the music of the church.  And it's apparently not just about music, music isn't even part of this passage.  It seems to me that gratefulness, reverence and awe have to come into the church within me, in my own heart, not be generated by the service or the music or the preaching that is happening around me. 

Yesterday I was in Psalm 22, and these words jumped out at me, "From You comes my praise in the great congregation..."  From God comes my praise in the worship service.  It comes from God and goes to God... what does that say about my role here?  I am not a spectator watching a worship service, and I am not just responding to what is going on around me in a worship service.  God is speaking to me (and has been all week), I am listening and responding to Him, realizing what He has done for me with gratefulness, realizing His power and position and my own sin and responding accordingly, that is, with reverence and awe. 

Gratefulness, reverence, awe - something to carry inside you as you enter into worship.  Now, read the words of the hymn at the beginning of the post; meditate on them and pray them and feel the power of those words, and approach God with gratefulness, reverence and awe.


Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.


When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Words: Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.



©Rebecca A Givens, 12/4/13
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