Have you ever seen or heard something SO beautiful that made your heart swell and your soul sing? That filled you with awe, and longing, and indescribable joy? And you suddenly wished oh-so-fiercefully for all of your loved ones to share it with you?
I experience this often in church and at concerts. I think the common denominator is music, well played and artfully done, but also any of the creative arts, be it drama, dance, or spoken word, in expression as worship to a mighty God.
I feel exceedingly full after a weekend of very worshipful musical and theatrical performance. And all day today I wanted to write just the words that would make you feel like you experienced it, too. Because I had been so impacted!
But here’s the thing: these holy moments, like designer purses or popular restaurant meals, are cheap to replicate but impossible to recreate. The knockoff is not the real deal.
And I can show you dozens of pictures of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant belting out tunes, and I can tell you how I spent the whole concert alternately smiling so hard I thought my face would crack, and then trying not to ugly cry (successful, barely).
But if you weren’t there, my summary can only mean so much to you.
Maybe you know the simply-named “Christmas Hymn,” and if I tell you how it hit me at my very core with its concise expression of the foundational truths of Christianity in short, powerful, rhyming prose, you can appreciate it somewhat if you’re familiar with the song. You can imagine. I hope you do! Close your eyes (imperative so you won’t be distracted by the ’80s hairstyles!), listen to this song, and see if it moves your spirit.
Maybe you’ve seen a live nativity in a Christmas production, and so you know how touching it is to see that first Christmas night depicted. This morning at my church, as part of a larger dramatical presentation, one scene found Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus at the manger. Then as the choir sang, actors came forward kneeling before the baby Jesus in adoration.
What touched me so deeply was that they represented our diverse humanity – people from South America, Africa, Europe. They depicted the high and the low amongst us, the refugee and the rich, the child and the adult, the simple and the intellectual. Every one came before Jesus, the baby boy, and knelt in humble worship, recognizing his place as their Lord and future savior.
Oh, to see that happen in our world! Such longing and such wonder!
I have thought about these holy moments all day, and just wanted to try to paint them for you and give them to you. But I know I can’t do them justice.
Holy moments, like caffeine, have a half life. They energize and fill, and they only linger so long. The day goes on. Grocery shopping must be done. The shower has to be scrubbed. The troubles of this world encroach – reminders of sickness, sadness, evil – all the dark, sad things that we can’t keep far enough away.
The peace is interrupted.
So what’s the worth of those very personal holy moments, if they mean so much to us, but they’re difficult to share and don’t last?
This isn’t an expose on the purpose of worship, but it’s a little nugget, maybe. I read Matthew 5 this weekend, and one of the beautiful promises Jesus makes is this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I think holy moments fill us for a moment and make us want more. More holiness. More righteousness – in our own lives, and in the lives of others.
And those sacred, peaceful moments transform us, causing our lives to be fed with his grace and spirit that we can then give to help others experience his goodness.
He gives. We do our best to share what he gives us with others. We thirst again, and he gives some more.
Praise God, he fill us again and again.