Giddy. That’s how I’d describe it.
Obviously, the term “giddy” doesn’t seem right, but it’s the only word that comes to mind which is even close…but it’s really more than giddy, it’s deeper, this sensation that I feel.
There is something about those Burning House meetings that I haven’t experienced in any other regular meeting of the church since I first began hanging out with the church. It’s not something connected to our order of the service. It’s not the songs we sing, even though there certainly is a lot of passion expressed during those songs. It’s something else.
As I stand in the room, and catch glimpses of all the different people, I almost feel like I need to avert my eyes, the reverence I feel for God is so strong in those moments. I feel like Moses before the burning bush. The atmosphere is not what is usually associated with moments of awe and reverence…people are talking, laughing, chewing and sipping from plastic cups. Almost without exception, there are smiles stretched across every face in the room. Here and there, I witness glassy eyes that are barely containing tears from a torrent.
In those moments, no one would know it, but I start trembling. It’s involuntary…but it begins in my knees and reverberates all through me. I look at the smiling faces, the joy, the bread, the cup; all I can think about are Paul’s words to the Corinthians “…he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” If I understand Paul correctly, my sense of reverential awe is coming from this brush with Jesus Christ Himself, present in His body, the church.
We’ve been accused in the past of doing a disservice to the communion service in our Burning House meetings. I couldn’t disagree more strongly. I understand that it’s very different from a traditional approach, and I understand it requires a loosened grip on our former definitions of “reverence”. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea…but I believe with all my heart we are on a good heading with it.
I wish I were a poet, or at least someone who is good with words, then maybe I could articulate what I experience at those meetings. I watch a young man, a teenager, laughing with his friends, sharing torn bits of bread, handing a cup to one of his peers. I watch him, his eyes closed, head held high, mouthing words of prayer for the one he holds hands with. I see him, his face aflame with passion, his hands outstretched to heaven as he sings about his Great Redeemer.
He’s not alone. His passion is repeated all over the room, and my knees want to buckle because I’m in the presence of the body of Jesus. The abyss of His love is like a vortex we’re drawn into.
Burning House keeps me alive. There are a lot of things in life that I’m convinced are designed to kill me…at least emotionally. I battle discouragement and depression on a daily basis, and sometimes I just don’t win. But at Burning House I tremble before that Something So Much Bigger than myself, and I find strength…vitality, inspiration, motivation…to press ahead in the journey. I can smile, remembering that none of this is dependent on me. I’m too frail, too flawed for that. It all rests with Jesus, present in His body.