Reverence, Awe, Love, and Grace - Torah thoughts in the midst of ordination preparations & contemporary church building culture.

For the past few weeks I've been reading through the Pentateuch. I'm excited that in the next week I'll probably finish! As I reflect on the detail to which God called the writers to record the genealogies and the details of the temple and the law, I realize that God was establishing His boundaries with the people. God was revealing Himself as awe-inspiring and worthy of respect.

Imagine with me wandering in the wilderness. No, imagine with me wandering through a dessert that includes cities and interactions with other nomads. Imagine with me being 600,000 people wandering through that dessert together! What keeps you together? A promise from God? The glory of a movable temple? The miracles? The presence of God in your midst?

I think that during this time God was teaching His people how to have reverence for Him. He wants His people to be set apart and holy and so He gives them laws and orders to follow, so that they might show their faithfulness through obedience and set themselves apart from the nations surrounding them. Then God puts this beautifully ornate tent in the middle of them. Imagine what that must have been like.

I wonder if we have lost something very important in our contemporary movement to be culturally relevant. Have we lost the awe and the reverence for God? When I walk into the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. I cannot but stop, look around, and say, "God is amazing!" Our newer church buildings no longer inspire that awe!

It seems that we have released people from a fear of and respect for God. We have done this by loosening the respect that we expect children to have for adults, so that they lose the consciousness they need to grasp the power and authority of our Creator. We have lost it by not expecting Christians to act holy and set apart. We have gained a lot in social justice, but we have not fully explained how social justice is an expression of being set apart as God's holy ones.

What do we do? How do we change? How will I as a future minister live in the tension between the need for contemporary cultural relevance and the need for majestic awe for the power and the glory of a holy God? How will I help the people under my care to see God as both loving and intimate, as well as powerful and holy?

Recently, I've been overwhelmed by the reality of what it will mean to be ordained. I remember one of my good friends feeling unprepared to become a pastor of a church. At the time, I didn't understand it, because I had been knowledgeably preparing to be a pastor since I was 10 years old. But now I get it. It is such a great responsibility! And I am a mere human, with my weaknesses, frailties, particularities, strange opinions and perspectives, and lack of understanding and experience. I have so much to learn! I will unintentionally lead people astray! (Thankfully, God's grace is greater than my mistakes!) I am and will be trying to figure out how to live faithfully, just as much as anyone else, but I will be held to a greater account.

Ordination is a life-long 24-7 promise and blessing! I can't wait and at the same time, I am so glad that God has made me wait! It has been what seems like a long wait, these 18 years, but it has been good! I thank God for this education that He has given me. I thank God for the transformations that I have had to go through over at least the last 12 years, since I made that public declaration at church of my intent to enter ministry. It has been a long, trying, and GOOD road! I look forward to what is to come.

So, I ask, how will I be a minister? How will I create a worship space that inspires awe and wonder? How will I show people what it means to revere a holy God while accepting the same God's unconditional love and grace? How will I be the person that God is calling me to be? Only by God's grace.

Lord, help me! I love you God. Amen.


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