In the Hebrew Law, Moses returns with quite specific instructions on the worshipping community. It would be, in theory, through this ordered prescription of worship that reverence of, and to, God would be discovered. There are the measurements for the holy place, the stipulations of who and who cannot enter, and the needed offerings to overcome the sins of living. In essence, it was entirely possible to follow the rules while neglecting the heart. That’s always the challenge of giving people instructions— we can quickly make those instructions the purpose rather than discerning the deeper things of life.
Much ink was spilled writing out the laws of the worshipping community. Great detail was given to each part, including the clergy. And it was in the midst of this type of structure that Jesus comes walking along and never really mentions the expectation of the worship community. Were they to continue their practices of their Jewish faith? Were they to leave that hyper structure behind? Would they become irreverent by not dotting each i and crossing each t? For if you aren’t reverent, then you must surely not love God…or worse, God might judge you and grant some type of bad omen or curse.
Reverence can never be cultivated by fear. You learn that reverence, once experienced, is revealed, not planned. It is a holy surprise for in a moment of time, grace and Spirit unite and we know we are in a holy space. This, I dare say, is what the world hungers for. We pray for it each Sunday and when playing at the beach, but in truth, we can never orchestrate reverence and awe. It most often catches us unaware.
And so we have people like David hanging out in nature, overwhelmed by the beauty of this world. Or we have Jesus feeding thousands with still plenty to be shared. Or, we have a woman just wanting to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment so that his power might flow through her. Each one, a moment of reverence—some alone, others amidst a crowd.