Thunder rolled, a deep rumble that drew all eyes to the mountain. Clouds gathered to darken the peaks, lightning punctuating the unending noise. The glow of fire began to turn the roiling shadows red, flickering tongues of flame piercing the billowing waves of black. Invisible shofars reverberated in the air as the watchers clapped hands over ears in pain and terror. Men and women fell to their knees as the earth rocked beneath them. Then came the words, the unavoidable voice that held all rapt: I am the Lord your God.
The walls rose white in the sun, reflecting its brilliance over the descending streets of the city. Gold crowns at pinnacle and gate held what seemed to be the pure flame of God Himself, drawing the notice of every citizen as they went about their daily business. Thin trails of smoke rose from the inner courtyard as the priests offered the daily love offerings of individuals seeking God’s presence. The sound of singing echoed from the inner walls of the outer court and drifted to the ears of passersby, drawing them in to join the celebration. The entrance bustled with activity, the lowing of cattle vying with the calls of shepherds as excited citizens prepared for the coming feast. Already pole frames were being erected, with piles of branches and rugs near each, ready for the week’s commemoration of the wilderness years. Levite servers bustled about, children racing through the streets stopped to stare at the gleaming temple in innocent awe, while their parents sang snatches of psalms and chattered about tales of days gone by. All eyes drifted often to the towering brilliance, and whispered prayers of thanksgiving accompanied joyous smiles.
Stone by stone the great pillars rose overhead, soaring to the vaulting arches and crystal panes of the impossible ceiling. Light filled the space, reflecting from the polished buttresses as if they held the light of God within themselves. Standing on seamless stone tiles far beneath that glow one could imagine oneself within the walls of Heaven, breathing the breath of God. The voices lifted in song echoed from above, mimicking the heavenly choirs unheard by mortal ears. Eyes could not remain earthbound, but soared upward seeking communion with God Himself.
The colors blended together, casting shadows from painted lanterns that seemed to hold light unbound by physics. The bowed head of a woman, cradling the linen ready for the coming of the child, carried the anticipation in the pains that already cramped her womb. The man, almost formless in her shadow, holds the pent-up breath of every passerby gazing on the image. The great empty road in front of her, lit by the lantern yet somehow sliding the eye back to her waiting figure, gleams of possibility. When will the Savior arrive? Will the couple, chosen to provide the simple human life He will lead, find shelter in time? Like the figures frozen in the painting, breath stops in every throat watching, waiting with them.
Color washed across the sky, particles of light playing a silent symphony against the atmosphere. A ridge of white marked the edge of darkness as the last rays peeked above the banks of clouds. Below, a haze of yellow fire blazed like the glory of Heaven itself. Eyes and hands lifted in awed worship.
Over and over God has focused His people. His inspired writers told how over and over He drew their minds and hearts back to Him using grand architecture, beautiful music, inspired artisanship, captivating stories, and shocking displays of power. Over and over those writers spoke of His intention for worship being an offering of man’s entire self, a connection with all that God is in order to lift mankind out of the physical realm into the spiritual one. Over and over He has entertained the souls of His people within Himself.
Voices rise in stirring melody, singing words of praise to God. Sounds of music tremble in the air, quickening the heartbeat and wakening souls to touch the Father. Hands lift and heads bow as the weight of the Savior’s love crushes resistance.
Stories are told of hopelessness banished, lovelessness redeemed, helplessness relieved, or evil vanquished. Beautiful things, films about simple joyous themes, and music reflecting love and life wake souls to God’s presence and draw their eyes from the sorrow of darkness to the joy of His light. They entertain toward faithfulness.