It's dark, it's solemn, the air is silent, so silent that it is somehow both uncomfortable and comfortable, this is serious, this is a moment filled with a stoic sense of awe and wonder. But we don't like to be serious, we always want levity and a stand up comedian to be our pastor or priest. Kavanah is the hebrew word that in essence translates as "the mood of the heart," the heart must be silent, and remember the severity of the issue.
Yes, devotion to Christ can be very light-hearted and often filled with inexplicable joy or happiness, but perhaps there are certain denominations out there who are being looked down upon for not be relevant to the present day who should be more celebrated than they are.
There is a very well known catholic author who was approached about why he isn't a protestant, since after all, most of his readers are protestant. To this inquiry he answered, "Well that's very easy, because the protestant soul is too noisy."
Many do not find Christianity to be fulfilling, many find it lacking in many ways. Well, perhaps it is not that it is lacking but it is because it is not given the room it needs to live and breathe in us, around us, and through us. Christianity has a pleasant little box that we have placed it within, that only wants to let it be something constantly joyful, and never solemn, always celebrative and not ever contemplative.
The condition of the heart is everything. Kavanah. In protestantism we just go over here or there and pray spur of the moment. Interesting how in ancient Judaism and still today, there is a prep time before praying, a time to sit or stand and review the severity and the weight and the immensity of God, YHWH, holiness, righteousness, forgiveness, our rebellion, our return, our repentance, His Good, His Love, His search for us which started long before us ever searching for Him. (Interesting how the first question God asks is "Where are you?" to Adam and Eve)
Time to check our Kavanah is looked down upon. To be seen as spiritual by people today is 1 either seen as "nice" or 2 a waste of time. Whereas if you look upon the life of the saints, if they did not spend time to muse and rue about the Most High, they themselves and their lives would have been a wreck.
I think that our lives would be very much different if we stopped treating holy things flippantly, and stopped treating flippant things as holy. Treat right things seriously, and perhaps our lives will stop being flaming wrecks.
But no, we wouldn't want to do that, talk about faith, forgiveness, and Jesus seriously. We don't want to treat these things as though they were holy, because that would mean that we would have to give up the things that we cling to in their stead.
What ever happened to being on bended knee? What ever happened to devotion? What ever happened to the things we have been told should be treated seriously?
I'll tell you what, the holy has been exchanged for the unholy, devotion exchanged for unfaithfulness, and bended knee exchanged for a puffed up chest and a head full of arrogance because that is what we want (but not what we need).
We don't take the time to check the Kavanah. We don't take the time to treat the Lord as though He actually were the Lord, we don't bother trying to keep things that are holy as though they were truly holy.
"What we lack is not a will to believe, but a will to wonder." (says Abraham Joshua Heschel) We lack a will to be still, we lack a will to think about things bigger than ourselves. And when we lose that will to wonder, we lose the essence of what it is to remember God, that He is infinite and indescribable. That He is ineffable.
As we lose a will to be respectful, a will to keep holy what is holy, a will to wonder, in essence, we lose the ability to stand in AWE. Not the type of awe that when you look up at the stars you say "wow," what kind of awe I am talking of is the kind that to say "wow" would be inappropriate, and that the only appropriate thing to do would be to "be still and know that He is God." And what reason is there to have faith in something that does not provoke awe? None. But faith needs food, and that food can very easily be defined as wonder or awe.
"Well that's very easy, because the protestant soul is too noisy."
Yeah, he hit the nail right on the head about many of us, even those of us who do not attend protestant churches. We need to reclaim taking the Most High seriously, because if we do not, the consequences could be more serious than we could imagine.
And so now, may you, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth learn to check the Kavanah, the mood of your heart. May you learn to treat holy what is holy, treat the Lord as Lord, yourself as a child of God, and others as the image of the Most High. May you reclaim that sense of wonder and awe that lead you to just be silent before your Lord, and learn how to pray and praise with a purity and a joyfulness and a solemnness of heart.