You can be in a space, and yet not be there. This is a common issue when it comes to corporate worship. We need to refocus. So often we carry our external concerns into worship space as an unintentional barrier, leading to disconnection; or we bring an impenetrable wall of expectation.
What can we do?
There is a teaching from the Talmud, Berakhot 28b, that is inscribed at the front of some synagogues on the Torah Ark (see picture below):
דע לפני מי אתה עומד
“Know before Whom you stand.”
Rashi comments that knowing before who you stand induces awe and concentration. On the highest level this is speaking of the Lord; but it can also be applied to those we stand among. How so?
Physical. Emotional. Spiritual.
In the congregation:
1. Physical: you are there.
2. Emotional: who is the other there with you?
3. Spiritual: He is there.
This speaks on the level of the soul, and the tripartite nature of men, and it directs away from self-awareness – self-centeredness – to corporate awareness and the Lord’s Presence. When we note the other in the space with us, those known or unknown to us, the refocusing mentioned above takes shape:
We are here. They are here. He is here.
Physically we note our presence in worship space. Emotionally we note the other, and their joys and concerns. Spiritually, we know that He is here, as Yeshua promised to be in our midst as Emmanuel:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Here we stand before heaven and brethren, in awe of the heavenly reality, and the power of redemption witnessed among the saints of God. We can now concentrate, and enter in the dimension of worship, bringing others with us.
What do we do?
When entering the congregation, we must remember that it is one thing to enter the building; being present, however, is quite another.
1. When crossing the threshold recognize the change in space and dimension, between the common space and holy space.
2. Leave expectations before the outer door.
3. Attune to the dynamic of the congregation at the moment of arrival.
4. Enter in.
5. Then take it with you when you go.
6. But leave the bag of expectation where you dropped it, thanks.
I acknowledge this is not easy, especially in this age and season. Yet, when we change our thinking, perspective, and purpose by noting “before whom we stand,” the worship experience is freer, more meaningful, and life transformative because we have praised and worshipped in Spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23).
Be well. Shalom.