April 1, 2020

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.’

Revelation 4:9-11

In the last Sunday in December, while visiting my family, I attended an Episcopalian service at the Princeton University chapel. It was Lessons and Carols and, before it was over, I felt like I had been ushered into the throne room of heaven.

Normally, at the end of worship I am breathing a sigh of relief, heading for the door to greet people and perhaps thinking about lunch!

It is a rare treat to have no tasks during worship so that I can simply offer my praise to God. Normally, I prefer the Presbyterian way of worship with a simpler liturgy and less ritual. But on this Sunday, it was different.

I have listened to the readings, smelled the incense, and heard choirs and brass many times before. But on this day it came together in such a way that by the end when the procession walked out of the church, I watched them all the way down the aisle, wanting to see the crucifer until she walked out the door, because something in that service touched my soul deeply, beyond intellect or reason and beyond human control and contrivance. It truly felt like I had been spiritually transported to the throne room of heaven. The wonder and the splendor of the throne room scene in Revelation had come alive in my heart in a way it never had before.

I gained a deeper appreciation for this powerful passage through experiencing its power rather than simply studying its meaning.

So, never underestimate any part of worship. You never know how God might touch you with Holy delight!

Dear Lord, grant us an open spirit to be surprised by your grace any moment in worship and in life. Let us live to the glory of Christ, that others might know your beauty through us. May each one of us be led to offer you the same praise and honor that Revelation shows us. Amen.

Dr. Thomas E. Evans

About the Contributor:
Dr. Thomas E. Evans became Senior Pastor and Head of Staff of First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg in 2012. Born in Brazil, Tom is the fourth son of missionary parents and Presbyterian ministers. He and his wife, Wendy, have two children, Liz and Matthew.