I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.
As much as I so love the modern worship styles of many churches these days and the joyous, upbeat atmosphere focused on fellowship…there is something I do appreciate about the more traditional, liturgical churches. My Catholic, Lutheran, Episcapalian, and Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ seem to have kept an element of worship that many denominations, as well as non-denominational churches, often forget to make important. When we get so comfortable and personal with God (He indeed is a very personal, extremely intimate God…Jesus became flesh and dwelt among all our sin and noise and mess, and loved us through it all) sometimes we fail to revere His absolute Holiness.
God’s holiness is perfect. Utterly perfect, without blemish. Because we have sinned, we have fallen short of the glory of God. In our human nature, we cannot have relationship with a perfect God apart from a perfect sacrifice. You may be a seemingly good person, but you’re not good enough. One sin is one sin too much to be in His presence. In the old Testament, God dwelt in the Holy of Holies- only the High Priest could enter with the sacrifice of the people. But that sacrifice had to be over and over again- it wouldn’t satisfy for eternity. The people awaited the perfect, lasting sacrifice. The mystery and beauty of Christmas is that Jesus came as a baby into this world, into a dirty, noisy, chaotic stable, and truly stepped into the human experience…God became man in order to become that perfect sacrifice…to make a way for us to have personal relationship with a Holy God once again. So the weight of His Holiness also points to the incredible gift of His intimacy and closeness. Apart from the righteousness of Christ, we cannot enter into His presence. He is our Great High Priest. He is our Mediator. He is our Way to the Father.
He is Holy, yet He is close. He is Majestic, yet He is Humble. He is Powerful, yet He is Personal. He is King, yet He is Father. He is greater than the Universe, yet He is a prayer away.
My challenge to myself, and to all of us is this:
If your style of worship and prayer is more casual, more personal, more relational–try to take time this Christmas to truly revere and be in awe of the Holiness of God. Bow before Him. Kneel before Him. Honor and respect His Name. Stand in awe of His power and goodness and majesty. Be still and silent before His throne.
If your style of worship and prayer is more formal and rote–try to take time this Christmas to be raw and personal with your Heavenly Father. Jesus has made a way to have an intimate relationship with God. He has clothed us with His righteousness so that we can come to His presence in freedom. Find joy in His presence and even dare to be spontaneous in your worship.
We all can learn from other styles and traditions of worship. May we never forget the HOLINESS of God. May we revere the name of Jesus and lift Him high always. May we also know how personal His love for us is, and know that He has made a way through the cross for us to enter into His holy presence.