“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
I was preparing to enter the worship sanctuary to preach in a church in India. But before I went in, there was a request from the pastor of the church: Would I please take off my shoes? In fact, not just me but everyone else who was to lead in worship that day kicked off their loafers and sandals. No one mounted the pulpit there unless they were shoeless.
Of course, that request has a strong biblical precedent. When Moses stood in the presence of the Lord at the burning bush, God commanded him to remove his sandals. In the ancient Jewish world, to take off one’s sandals was a mark of humility and respect.
While I wear shoes in the pulpits of North America, that little episode challenged me to ponder the way I approach worship. First, when I worship, do I really think of myself as coming into the presence of God? We North American worshipers so quickly focus on what we are getting out of the worship experience. Shoeless worship reminded me that the real audience in worship is God himself.
Second, when I worship, do I really humble myself before God? I can’t mount a pulpit in stocking feet without putting to death something of my pride. Is my regular approach to God in worship one of humility?
Lord, regardless of our footwear, may our approach to you in worship always be in humility and awe. May we delight in your glory, celebrate your majesty, and realize that we stand in your presence by grace alone. In Christ Jesus, Amen.
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