There are truths I know yet struggle to believe.
You know all my struggles, yet you never leave.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
In spirit and truth.
In response to a question about places of worship, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman of a coming shift in perspective. Soon (indeed, sooner than many of the day realized), true worship would no longer be identified with a specific location, neither at Jerusalem (where the Jews worshiped) nor Mount Gerizim (where the Samaritans worshiped). True worshipers would worship in spirit and truth.
But what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
God of burning bushes, smoking mountains,
Clouds and flaming pillars in the distance,
God who spoke the earth into existence,
Calling from dry rocks fresh, flowing fountains,
Are you just as present in the present,
In the average and ordinary?
Does your presence with us ever vary
If our days are boring or unpleasant?
For, it seems, our lives are unexciting,
Work and worship in a world of faces–
Seems so commonplace, these common places.
Is it true, O God, you are inviting
Those with ears to hear to live in wonder?
In our silence, might we hear your thunder?
Unmatched, unmarred by sin, unshaken, God
Maintains the utmost glory. ‘Fore his face
E’en angels hide their faces. In that place
Corruption is not suffered, cannot trod
The ground made holy by his presence. Hide
Your eyes; gain clarity. Be still and know
That he is LORD o’er all, above, below.
Fear fills us, fear fulfills us: terrified
In tenderness. Unknown yet known; most high;
E’er near; eternally enthroned above
All enemies, all not-gods, perfect love
Perfectly conquers all, never runs dry.
The sun is but a shadow of his light.
No darkness can present a worthy fight.
Huge thanks to Brett Dickson for his invaluable insight and encouragement during the writing of this poem.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Presence can make the act of sitting through a terrifying movie more bearable. Presence can make a nervous child more courageous. Presence can strengthen and encourage in powerful ways.
Presence can also cause a tempted eye to avoid the glance. Presence can make a child who’s considering disobedience choose to obey. Presence can remind and convict in powerful ways.
The presence of my shepherd is my peace.
His goodness to me day by day, my song.
His love for me bids all my worries cease.
He over ev’ry enemy is strong.
I lack no needed thing, for he is here
In deepest darkness as in brightest light.
Amid my enemies, I do not fear,
For God, my father, watches through the night.
No storm or sword or snake can separate
My soul from the Almighty’s sov’reign grasp.
This body may decay, these doubts berate –
Still I remain within my father’s clasp.
True life is life lived at the shepherd’s side.
I make it thus my aim to there abide.