I’ve been reading Joe Rigney’s book, Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God. One of the things that strikes me is how Lewis always emphasized the otherness of God. God is not like us. It made me think of my own tame ideas of God, especially in relation to things I do that I know are wrong. Somehow I expect God to excuse me, because He is so loving and gracious. Not nearly often enough do I think what an awesome and terrible thing it is to be known by the Almighty, absolutely Righteous God. Forgiveness in this context is truly amazing.
I think many Christians are like me, not often impressed with the otherness of God that is so wonderful but also terrible in relationship to ourselves. I have felt the lack of apprehending God’s majesty in worship services. I do not like glib comments that refer to God as we would to one another. Maybe it is partly my age, but at least for me, it does not encourage me to think of God as different from myself. And so I very much agreed with Jonathan Aigner’s recent post about worship. Commenting on worship in an Anglican church he visited, he says:
Worship at Advent differs from common liturgical practice in the contemporary American church, to say the least. It is exceedingly beautiful, sublime even, evoking a sense of transcendence that seems strikingly out of place, even in one of the most historic cities in the country. …
On Advent’s website is their Liturgical Customary
, a long document describing the movements in the historical drama that are played out in their rich liturgical worship. Some of you may not agree with every practice of Anglo-Catholic worship and that’s certainly your own prerogative. But after reading through entry after entry on liturgical posture, and possibly pausing just long enough to practice my own genuflecting in the mirror, I was bowled over by a concluding paragraph.
While the foregoing may seem excessively fussy, particularly in an age when manners are out of fashion and seminaries are apparently intent on turning the Mass into a rock-‘n’-roll show, remember that Divine Service is not a casual activity. The Lord’s Supper is a heavenly banquet, not a drive-thru lunch from a fast food shop. Lack of attention to deportment at Mass is as inappropriate as wearing torn jeans to a formal dinner. Sloppiness of appearance, movement or behavior will not show forth “the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty,” which is what we seek to present. (1)
After countless readings and re-readings of this paragraph, all with bated breath, I finally exhaled deeply with a series of questions.
Why aren’t we all approaching worship with reverence, seriousness, and sobriety?
Why are we trying to make worship accessible to those who don’t care about it anyway?
What’s wrong with us that we think we should get to have worship made in our own image?
Why are we so offended by the beauty of holiness?
And then this:
I fear we aren’t just guilty of domesticating the one true God, itself a grave error. In our petulant insistence on me-worship, we have shown where our ultimate allegiance lies and crowned ourselves lord of all. More terrifying still is my suspicion that most of the church doesn’t even recognize what the hell we’ve done.
Aslan is Not a Tame Lion: The Serious Mistake of Casual Worship