I’m looking out my window at 25,000 feet.
To my left there’s a stunning view of the clouds resting upon the ground—a great white cover of translucent down. A river snaking through the landscape in the distance, curling upon itself in the most inefficient way, reversing its course unpredictably across the Texas plains. I see black patches of lakes, nonsensical outlines, like Rourshack tests. Hints of human habitation in traces of roads and the green-brown patchwork smudges of cleared forest.
If I were standing on the ground I never would have seen these visions. I wouldn’t have even known they were there. All I would have been able to see were those things right in front of me, accessible to my immediate senses from my 6’2” vantage point. Granted, flying in a jet still requires me to make use of my senses. I’m never without them and I interpret my surrounding world through them. However, what being in a jet provides is a transcendent perspective over the normal.
I’m privy to a view that those on the ground don’t have access to—unless they also join me in this speeding tube of steel. In order to see all of this in this way requires me to become elevated, and would require you to become elevated as well. There’s only a certain amount of description that I could provide you in order to see what I see, there are only so many adjectives that I can conjur up to help you experience what I’m living at this moment. There is nothing to describe the sense of flying so near to a towering thundercloud that you can feel moved in your bones by both the beauty and the power that you are almost apart of, that you can just begin to taste in the sublimity of seeing.
This very thing happens each week. Every Sunday morning as we enter the basketball court at Harmony School our vision is elevated. What looks to be a building of brick, stone, oak and tile, a basketball court of hardwood, Hoosier basketball backboards, tall windows covered in chain-link, walls of brown tile—this becomes for us our meeting place, and God’s sanctuary, God’s Temple, a thin place where he meets with and interacts with his people gathered in Jesus’ Name, united in one-anotherness through the common sharing in of Christ’s body and blood and participation in the renewal life of the Holy Spirit.
The faith given us by God the Spirit himself, raises us up, causing us to ascend into the heavenlies by virtue of our union with Christ, so that we can see the things before us with new eyes, cleared vision, and hearts attuned to the significance of the gathering of God’s people for worship, and his meeting with us through his means of grace—the prayers, the Word, the sacraments.
I don’t look out my window and see something “pretty” nor do I see something mundane enough for my indifference. I am flying. This is one of the greatest fantasies of humanity since before Icarus, and I have it. I am not watching it, I am not being told about it, I am living it, participating in it. No indeed, I don’t shrug my shoulders unimpressed. I don’t glance at the meeting of the heavens and the earth and offer a consolation wink at the nice view. I am flying. And, so I marvel.
Marvel is meant to characterize the worship of the people of God. Worship is not meant to be something that happens to us, something we go and watch, something we just take part in here and there. Worship is meant to call us out in fullness of participation because it is not a human who calls to us or initiates with us, it is the Living God himself. The Covenant God. The Blessed One. A Consuming Fire.
Do we not marvel at him? Or, do we look with indifference, a shrug of the shoulders, and go back to our SkyMall? Do we fixate on the irritations of the momentary imperfections in our comfort? The context for our beholding may subtly change from week to week—different songs, different prayers, good sermons, not so good sermons, tasty coffee, bitter coffee. Yet, to allow the smudges on my window, or the smells of the passengers near me, or my lack of leg room to become scales over my eyes, or grumblings to obsess over denies the most fundamental reality of my moment—
I am flying.