He is Here

Shivering from the icy black night, I gladly entered the Episcopal sanctuary and settled into a back pew. The golden light filling the church embraced me warmly. Silence and an air of expectation reigned as choristers entered and lined the counter-pointed aisles.

Following a prayer—an invitation for divine presence—the singers proceeded forward as they sang, assembling in the vaulted nave far from my view. I was left to acquaint myself with numerous fat candles in glass globes that squatted in each tall, recessed window. Bright and lively, the lights bounced joyfully, warming us and offering companionship.

I looked up toward the ceiling and smiled at much larger, long lights, swaying ever so gently to the flickers of the candles. Glowing butterscotch-gold with black metal fittings, they resembled Christ’s lantern in William Holman Hunt’s “Light of the World” (a painting of Christ knocking at a door) and bespoke His presence.

Swelling organ notes and splendid violin strains filled the sanctuary with peace and power as much as with music itself. Even during the anthems of the choir, the place weighed heavy with sanctified quietness. Spaciousness between the congregation and the voices of the nave provided more than sufficient room for Him to dwell among us. Willingly we worshiped before our awesome God, and a blessed sense of light and tranquility settled on us all.

At one point, the choir sang a verse of Scripture that contradicted what I felt: “He is not here.”

Oh, no, I thought. Not now—in this place. He is here. He is most assuredly here.