When God told Moses to take off his sandals at the burning bush, the great I Am was indicating to the exodus leader that he was in the presence of the Almighty God. There was no ifs, ands or buts about it. Moses was to recognize that God was present and he would best benefit by understanding his place. The interesting thing about this whole scenario is that Moses wasn’t in a building nor was he at some altar space that most Christians would flock to for prayer at the end of a Sunday morning service.
Moses simply was in the presence of God.
Now, it’s important to note that Moses’ location—his physical whereabouts—wasn’t the key. It was, indeed, that he was in the presence of God.
The tension that I get as someone who tries to incorporate the arts with “church” is the notion that what we do on a given Sunday could fall along the borders of sacrilegious. Whether it’s using “secular” music as the backdrop to one of our videos or inviting non-Christians into the discussion of how we can become more artistically fluid, some would question the reverence we have for our Creator.
Hugh Halter, in his book “Sacrilege,” said it best when he writes, “What if holy ground is not in the church building? What if holy ground is those moments when we allow ourselves to be a vessel of light into a crevice of darkness and illuminate the beauty of God’s kingdom ways to those groping in a great void? … Holy ground [in defining altars] was found and defined as anywhere people pause to focus on and show gratitude to God.”
When we focus so much on our buildings as sacred space and the tiny details of what we should blare through our speakers or show on our video screens, we tend to miss those everyday moments where God wants to be experienced. We miss the actual holy ground where He’s present. We miss out on opportunities where we could embrace those holy ground moments in the form of a mother and her six children struggling to stay warm at night. We miss out on experiencing His presence during a father’s quest to work three jobs just to provide food on the table. We sidestep God’s holy ground emerging in the fold of a lonely Atheist or Buddhist or Muslim looking for comfort during the holidays.
When we nitpick at the style of musical worship or at the lack of formal attire by the pastoral staff, we bypass opportunities to experience God elsewhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God isn’t present inside our church buildings (although, some would argue our churches are absent of God’s presence), but I am saying we put God in a box when we focus our efforts on making our church experience perfect.
Let’s move to experience God where ever we find ourselves—in and out of church. Because, if Moses experienced God through burning foliage, then our experience of God is endless.