Still on the theme of worship. There are some very basic things I am learning. Surprised that it has taken me so much of a lifetime to get here. This thread started with the Brian Doerksen concert back in February. Why now? Is it because I have lost my church community and am out in the desert and have to face up to God on my own?
Today's lesson being learned is the awesome otherness of God.
When we experience and appreciate something of the glory of God the response has to be facedown. We cannot stay standing.
When we realise we can only deal with a glimpse of the glory our response is facedown. Matt Redman's phrase 'towards a greater glimpse' struck me as odd at first.
No one can sing of things they have not seen
God open our eyes towards a greater glimpse
The glory of You, the glory of You
God open our eyes towards a greater glimpse1
A glimpse is very brief, passed in a moment. 'Greater' seemed an odd qualification of a glimpse. But, actually we can only survive glimpes of the Glory of God. It is daring to ask for greater glimpses.
And yet, on the otherhand, God comes very close and intimate. His Spirit lives in us.
In this little book Matt takes us through some of these mysteries of apparent contradictions in the nature of God and our experience of Him.
He reveals and He conceals. He invites and He hides. He confounds and He confides. The God who rests but never sleeps. Who thunders and whispers, terrifies and befriends. Whose anger lasts only a moment, but whose favour lasts a lifetime.2
There are many ways we can express our worship and experience the Glory of God. Matt tells of a visit to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris:
As I entered the building someone was blasting out a huge great anthem on a pipe organ, using some of the scariest chords I've ever heard in my life! The impact was amazing. ... the music that day painted a picture of a God who is mightiy mysterious and mysteriously mighty.2
Imagine a congregation which on one Sunday comes together in a domed church building with the sunbeams slanting through the high coloured glass. The people glorify God with the pipe organ and the choir reverberating into the dome and finish facedown in worship. The next Sunday they come together in a general purpose space. The loudspeakers are stacked up, the microphones are balanced, the effects machine is tuned and ready. Even the silence has a soft reverb. As the first guitar chord is struck the Glory of the Lord comes down. And the people fall facedown.
Same God. Same people. Same Glory. Just different forms of worship.
But the people come prepared for the sacrifice; prepared to live a life of worship.
The call of Christ is to live a radical life of love and service - a life that leads to many costly acts of devotion, a life of intimacy with guts passion and perseverance.
The most meaningful and powerful worship always comes at a price - The whole of our lives placed on His altar.
And as God reveals Himself, so we respond:
Our hearts respond to Your revelation
All You are showing, all we have seen, commands a life of praise
No one can sing of things they have not seen2
Matt leads us through a vision of the whole of creation as a song of worship to its Creator. And then a consideration of the place of silence in worship. In this noisy world where our senses are continually bombarded with information and entertainment we need spaces of silence in which to hear the whisper of God.
These days anything vaguely exciting is described as awsome. Everything from the special effects in the latest blockbuster movie to the taste of a fast-food hamburger is apparently awesome - or quite literally, worth of awe. The Bible tells us that awe is something reserved for God, and God alone.2
Dominion and awe belong to God (Job 25:2)
1. 'Seeing you' Matt Redman ©2004
2. 'Facedown', Matt Redman, Regal Books
3. Listen to the Facedown songs (probably not on dialup connections)