by ALCAP | Friday, October 24, 2014
Winston Churchill was seldom at a loss for words. Whether making a brief comment to the press or delivering a lengthy address before the British Parliament, Churchill distinguished himself as a master of the English language. In absolute frustration, he appraised his situation like this: "It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." That's about as complicated as it can get.
But that's also an apt description of many things in our lives today. Our nation is being shaken with current events. We are beginning to realize that our attitude and perception of life has become too careless and indifferent. We are becoming aware that God is no plaything and that our relationship to Him, as a nation, is not just kid's stuff. In awe we realize that God is a mysterious force that demands to be treated with respect and reverence. We may well need to think of the divine with a fresh sense of fear and trembling. This is a time of national self-examination. The Creator of the cosmos may be more unapproachable, mysterious and uncontrollable than we have been led to believe. In our cozy comfort we have lost the significance of what is holy,
Someone has pointed out that any attempt to discuss and explore the concept of reverence is like washing an elephant. You never really know where to start! The primary difference for us is that both the word and the concept it represents have fallen on some very hard times. You never hear of holiness or reverence outside the church. How do you find categories that the modern mind will understand which also adequately explain the idea of reverence?
The whole issue is somewhat ironic. We often speak of God with occasional irreverence. We make jokes and funny movies about the power of the divine. We market God in books and magazines and on television, as if He were some sort of cosmic cosmetic or divine detergent. We plaster His very name on billboards and bumper stickers. The irony is that we have such a limited sense of the holy.
Some have said to me: "So what? What have we lost if we lose the capacity for reverence?" Not long ago I read a news report of vandalism in a cemetery. A group of motorcycle riders had backed over headstones, did drugs and partied on the graves. One elderly man trying to repair his wife's grave was overheard asking, "Is nothing sacred anymore?" It's a fair question, and it points us to a deeper issue - nothing is sacred or special when there is no understanding of reverence.
We my talk about the sacredness of the family, the sanctity of man's word, and the dignity of human life - but those are empty phrases in a world where there is no respect.
In these present times we who are usually so self-confident, so secure in our ability to control things which matter most in our lives, suddenly we discover they are beyond our control. At the limit of our own power, we turn to a power greater than ourselves.
In many ways, God will always be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. But in His irresistible love He reminds us of the importance of respect.