The Holy Spirit was breathing on our church last Sunday. It didn’t surprise me; this past year I have often felt the Spirit moving around lots of places. Sometimes in the most unexpected places. But Sunday was beyond my experiences, and I am still thinking about it.
Usually when I go to church, I like to try to soak everything that I can into myself. Since I started teaching, church has been my reservoir. Raising kids at home and giving as much as I could to my “kids” at school, usually left me depleted. Sunday was my long drink of water…my “go to church” and “stare at the cross” day – or maybe – if they could talk me into it – sing a solo or direct the children’s choir on special occasions day. I have always tended to think of myself as a “closet prayer/worship” kinda person. Somewhere along the way, I took Jesus’s words pretty seriously about praying privately.
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. …” Matt 6:5-6
But as I said, this past Sunday was different. It was our first communion service in our new church, and I was wondering how this would go in such a huge church. Small churches are my thing. I like them because there is intimacy when I kneel at the alter and time to tarry if I wanted to pray a little longer. However, God is no respecter of small or large churches. When a space opens that lets Him in, He moves. Suddenly, during the song the choir was singing, I found myself on my feet. My hands raised. My voice lifted in praise. As the song went on, more and more worshipers stood and sang as well. You’ve got to understand – this isn’t me. I don’t do things like this. But Sunday – I did. Pen on floor. Bible no longer on my lap. Brain and heart filled with God. The Holy Spirit had me on my feet, and I don’t remember thinking about it……..at all.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Ex 20:3-5
In Jewish tradition, the 2nd commandment is Ex 20:3-6. That’s the thing about the 10 commandments. Actually, Jewish wisdom says there are 613 commandments while the 10 commandments handed to Moshe on Mt. Sinai are considered categories. Also, since not all religions have the same ones, I have gone with the Jewish tradition that, I think, Rabbi Yeshua would have been taught. Commandment 1 already said no idols, so in Jewish tradition, the 2nd commandment deals with “Improper Worship”. No idols – no graven images – no likenesses of beasts, animals, fish or anything of the earth – for there is only one God. Don’t worry about the fashion idol, the “I-belong-to-the-hip-church idol”, best choir idol…(you got it, right?) God is unique and beyond our understanding. He is Jehovah-Shammah when we worship Him because He changes us to our core with His love, forgiveness and grace.
Worship leads us to His kingdom…brings His joyful, eternal kingdom a little closer to our painful, finite kingdom. So…is it really so hard to follow His second commandment?
“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17 NASB