Perhaps “familiar” is not the right word – maybe “casual” or “nonchalant” might be better choices. My husband and I recently celebrated his birthday in St. Louis, Missouri. My parents cared for our five year old son and three year old daughter for the day, so we took advantage of getting to do things in the city that wouldn’t be as easy or enjoyable with preschoolers. We toured Bush Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and then visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The walls and ceiling of this massive stone cathedral are covered with mosaic scenes, which took 76 years to complete and total 83,000 square feet!
I was amazed at the brilliance and size of the space. I sat in a carved wooden pew in the center of the Cathedral and stared at the rich colors of the mosaic tiles, the lavish use of gold and marble surrounding and towering over me.
I then began watching as people approached the golden cross with Jesus depicted on it at the front of the Cathedral. Some bowed, others did the sign of the cross, some blew a kiss. My assumption was that everyone who made a reverent gesture like this was Roman Catholic. Then, I also saw others who just stared as they walked by or snapped pictures and the contrast between the two groups struck me. Although it is not apart of my tradition to use the sign of the cross, it seemed like a fitting gesture to show their reverence in that holy space. With the sign of the cross or a bow or a kiss, they seemed to be acknowledging and respecting Christ’s kingship. In contrast, my fellow Protestants walked by like gawking tourists, snapping pictures, chomping their gum and passing on by.
Perhaps I am being too hard on these or making an assumption about their religious backgrounds, but it did make me think. The King of the universe is accessible all the time. He invites us into His presence whenever we seek Him and is always waiting for us. Do I take this for granted? Absolutely! He is the KING and I am allowed to speak with him. That thought should surely make me want to at least do a slight bow in recognition and immense gratitude to him! When was the last time that I bowed or even stood in awe of his holiness? I am reminded of an old praise song by Mark Altrogge from 1986 called “I Stand in Awe.” Does anyone remember that song?
May we stand in awe of our Savior today – blown away by the fact that the king of all invites us near!