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Reverence

As is God's way with me, He will bring forth a single word, often near the beginning of the year, and He will teach me, through Holy Spirit & others, the depth & breadth of its meaning.  I've come to treasure this process with Him.  I am somewhat of a "wordie".   I get tangled at times in choosing just the right word, much to the frustration of others.  Yet, in this time with the LORD, He and I share this high value of full meaning.  It's not just the "Webster's" understanding that He, nor I, are interested in.  No, it's taking it into the deepest of places and drinking up all context and traveling to new heights to gain a new perspective, a Heavenly, eternal, perspective on a seemingly simple word.  It is also letting the "Living Word" of God have its way in me and letting it reveal and expose what needs to change and strengthening and nourishing what is weak.  Even letting it set fire to that which needs to be destroyed as a living sacrifice.  

Today, the new Word came.  "Reverence".   

At times the Word may be sent from the LORD as is needed for that season of life.  Other times it seems my heart has been trying to reconcile something and God's Word is the catalyst and the eventual answer.  This new Word, Reverence, is of the latter.  My background in the catholic faith (uncapitalized as a sign of humility) and the informal non-denominational church which helped me let go of "man's ways" and cling only to God's, directed me into deep abiding relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, seemingly stand in opposition to each other.  I've oft heard and have even mis-declared "Religion vs. Relationship".  (Scripture actually speaks about a good religion!)  The past couple of months this has been on my heart.  Standing in the beautiful cathedral in New Orleans, sensing the holiness and reverence left an ache in my heart and I didn't fully understand why.  And God in His ever faithfulness to me has  given me a word to reconcile this enigma.

One thing God has shown me is that context exists even today, especially today!  When we use words like "religion" it evokes many diverse meanings even with dear old Webster's definition as a guide.  Likewise, "relationship" has such diverse interpretation depending on one's life experience.  What I do know is that God is the great Equalizer, He brings all things into perspective and in HIM our definition is unfailing.  So as He teaches me, and as I savor this precious Word, I'll happily share the nourishment.  So for now I'll leave you with the fringe that I've taken hold of. 

I've had two occasions to participate in traditional religious services  in the past few years.  The first was a funeral mass and I will tell you that though confident in the freedom Christ has given me, I was a little unsettled about how my reborn faith might be challenged by the mandates of man.  To my most joyful surprise, the priest also has born again faith and preached the Gospel of Christ with great love and fervor.  In this church, man's tradition was trumped by God's love. Amen!

The latest service was a wedding service and for both personal and spiritual reasons I was eager to participate.  The priest was so gracious to explain the meaning behind the traditions we celebrated, all of which pointed to Christ.  The most dear and precious to me was when the Gospel was read.  The priest, with great reverence and ceremony, brought the Gospel book into the midst of us as a tangible act that the Word of God is available to everyone and He, Jesus, the Living Word of God, dwells among us as It is read.  (I remember when I first heard that concept, and it quickened my heart to imagine Jesus walking among us, fully present as His Word is read.  Oh, oh...)   Oh, it took all that was in me to stay on my feet, as to not draw attention to myself, as the Word of God came and dwelt among us. My knees begged to bend and my eyes longed for the hem of His robe...  In that very moment, a lifetime of formal "religion" and the very personal "relationship" between Christ and me, collided in a way I never expected.  They were not "opposed" to one another.  I had held them opposed.  I held past and present apart as one parts two arguing friends, arms wide, hands pressed against warring hearts to give space for composure to reign.  And I, caught in the middle, in between. Not here, avoiding there.  This is not the will of God!  He desires, expects, even prayed for, our unity as believers.  No, not a unitarian universal church. (Don't start building the pyre to set me ablaze upon just yet)  But you can't help but see "reverence" in the very first followers of Christ.  Yes, most certainly, they were in relationship with Him, but they were also Jews and the "rituals" had deep meaning, most especially since Jesus revealed the Heavenly, eternal, true meaning to them, like in the Last Supper, the Passover meal they shared together.  Now, does this mean that sitting through a religious service guarantees you eternal life with Christ or even the promised power and companionship of Holy Spirit?  The true and short answer is "No".  I believe that this is where the division arises.  That "religion" has been painted and accepted, with such a broad brush, that  sadly it can miss the target of its intended aim, Jesus.  Can you be in intimate, born again, relationship with your Savior and choose to fellowship in religious traditions?  Yes.  And He will, if you let Him, prioritize His ways above man's so that you honor Him rightly.

So, here is something to ponder.  What is the history of your faith?  Is there seeming conflict that needs once for all to be resolved or are there man made beliefs that do not align with the Word of God from which you need cleansed, that need to be set ablaze as a sacrifice unto God?  Or have you only known the freedom that Christ came to give and yet your heart is pricked as you consider His Word as it speaks to such things?  Or, maybe you're not even sure if you believe in God, but if you're willing to ask Him to reveal Himself to you , he will!  We all have so much to learn.  We will not fully know this side of Heaven, but until then we ask, and God is faithful to answer as we are able to understand.  I am eager to share this journey with you and look forward to you sharing how He is working this out in your life.

I tend to start with the obvious so I looked up the meaning of reverence.

I leave you with this from Merriam-Webster:
Full Definition of reverence
1:  honor or respect felt or shown :  deference; especially  :  profound adoring awed respect
2:  a gesture of respect (as a bow)
3:  the state of being revered
4:  one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman

And this from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
Reverence:
rev'-er-ens: In the Old Testament, "reverence" occurs as the translation of two Hebrew words, yare' and shachah. The root idea of the former is "fear." It is used to express the attitude toward God Himself, as in Ps 89:7 the King James Version; or toward His sanctuary, as in Le 19:30; 26:2. So the group of ideas there would be "fear," "awe," "reverence." The root idea of the second is "falling down," as prostration of the body. It is used to express the bearing toward another who is considered superior, as in 2Sa 9:6 the King James Version; 1Ki 1:31 the King James Version; Es 3:2,5. The group of ideas here, therefore, is "honor," "obeisance," "reverence."
In the New Testament "reverence" occurs as the translation of three Greek words, aidos, phobeomai, and entrepomai. In the first, the idea is "modesty" (Heb 12:28; compare 1Ti 2:9). In the second, "fear" (Eph 5:33the King James Version), though here it is used to set forth the attitude of proper subjection on the part of a wife toward her husband (compare 1Pe 3:2,5). In the third, the idea is that of the "self-valuation of inferiority," and so sets forth an attitude toward another of doing him honor (Mt 21:37; Mr 12:6; Lu 20:13; Heb 12:9).

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