“REJOICE WITH TREMBLING”
I have never liked wearing a tie. I much prefer the unconstrained freedom of an open collar. I like the appearance of a tie; it’s the discomfort that I dislike. Not wearing a tie to church, or to the office also fits in quite well with the trend of being casual.
It’s OK to be informal and casual but we need to realize that it can be dangerous. We could be standing on a slippery slope that leads to something not so good. A cartoon I saw last week said it well. It pictured a business office with people in various stages of dress and undress. One of them is saying, “Casual Friday was so popular we decided to try naked Monday.”
In worship and the practice of our faith being casual and informal is OK unless it leads to a lack of reverence. When Prince William and Kate were here recently it was really not OK for LeBron James, even if he is called the “king” in basketball circles, to casually drape his arm around her shoulders. How much more important is it that we come into the divine Presence with awe and reverence. Psalm 96:9 says, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness (some versions say “in holy attire”); tremble before him, all the earth.”
When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in the temple he was filled with fear and awe and his voice may well have trembled as he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isa 6). In the Psalms, “the fear of the Lord” is a common theme. One Psalm captures particularly well the attitude that we should have in our worship when it says, “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (11:2 esv). Coming into the Lord’s Presence calls for a kind of holy hesitation, a joyful trembling.
Paul recognized that the Lord was present in his church. In 1 Cor 4 he even calls the church the dwelling place of God in the Spirit and then goes on to say they are defiling it by their divisions and their sinfulness, their lack of reverence and respect. It all comes to a head in their observance of the Lord’s Supper which leads him to say this in 1 Cor 11:26-28, as seen in Peterson’s The Message: What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to his meal again and again until the Master returns You must never let familiarity breed contempt. Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
Let us “rejoice with trembling” whenever we enter the divine Presence and especially as we come to the table of communion.