“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” – Psalm 132:7, NRSV
The motto for my husband’s company is “Posture, Not Pose.” If I had to choose a motto for worship, it would be the same. It made me think about worship’s posture.
Of course, it would be inseparable from the heart, complete with singing and blessing of God’s name, perhaps an intermittent cymbal. I saw grandiose pictures of it in my mind, and places in my life where it could be implemented. To be honest, the more that I managed the vision, the more it started to look like a spiritual spa. I felt dangerously close to “pose.”
I needed something more useful to me. Once I told a friend who was struggling with her fate that fulfilling her purpose was an act of worship. I now have to ask, was I consoling her or was this true?
I could not help but attach the invitation to God’s footstool with posture, and now posture to daily life. It does not seem remarkable, but I have found that simply doing “the next thing” can be one of the greatest acts of worship
in my day.
I do not own a footstool, but I know someone who did.
My grandmother lived with us for a time. I recall sitting at her feet for hours. She would tell me how I needed to alter my daily routine, and I would ask her the questions
of a lifetime. How fascinating to see her bible by her chair, hear her talk about granddad and their reunion in heaven, and listen to the tales that only come from the right question and silence.
I could have heard my grandmother’s life on a couch or at the dinner table, but in our experience the footstool accomplished more. It is, simply, a small table on which you put your feet; but it was there that I willingly postured myself under my grandmother’s tutelage.
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, made the decision to sit at the feet of Jesus, instead of remaining distracted with hostess responsibilities. She just sat and listened to Jesus talk. Can you imagine?
Risking the appearance of doing nothing, Mary’s choice was to sit under the tutelage of Christ. It was inevitably questioned. In her defense, Jesus said, “…there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42, NRSV).”
John 12 shows that the better part was not taken away from her; in fact it seemed to have grown. Scripture tells us that Mary brought an expensive jar of ointment into her brother’s house on this occasion. Immediately, she was disparaged by at least one of the attendees for the extravagance.
As before, Mary was not deterred. They did not know that she was going to the footstool to worship.
Amidst the chiding, the looks and the gasps, she walked. At the familiar feet of Jesus she fell. This was the altar at which her offering would be spilled. Posture humble, ointment scooped, with face to the ground she rubbed in the precious scent. Loosening her hair, she wiped, covering His feet.
The intoxicating smell filled the house, as this scene went on for an eternity. Some were embarrassed for this demonstration, certainly for Mary’s constant excessive acts of devotion. They needed no encouragement.
But, Mary’s eyes were on His feet, inspecting the long miles of wear and pondering the few to come. She was anointing, not making a vague gesture. She knew that what He said was true. He was going away. These actions were all that her broken heart could say.
Onlookers were silenced by the second defense from Jesus. In few words, Mary became the gospel embodied, the good news with its face to the floor and aromatic hair. This was worship.
Worship. What was meant for Christ’s burial was used at the footstool. Worship. Mary, with tears and ointment, prepared Jesus for His death.
A footstool seems to need feet to rest upon it, but I have found that it wants more. It wants the humble, the unequal, the intentional and the personal. The work that is done at a footstool is covenant work, important work, sometimes lowly work.
In our fear of being taken any lower than our day demands, this work is often put aside; but when the complete separation between the Father and the self is understood, when the chasm that was overcome is grasped, we finally understand who we are and who He is. Our heart acts in one way to this news…it worships.
After we sit at His feet, we stand at His footstool, this humble marker of God’s greatness. Over this footstool, postured, we are to pour out respect, admiration and devotion with a reverent heart because we are not God. We are the other, the unequal and the object of salvation.
My confusion comes during the day, when my emotions awaken, startled that, again, I am doing the menial. We hear this around every corner. We hate our jobs, our children are ungrateful, I have no life because I am a stay-at-home mom, the church suffers from apathy.
Somewhere in the menial I forget that God dwells where I dwell, and I dwell where God puts me. All dwelling places have the capacity for worship, a footstool.
Each footstool requires the same heart. Each dish to wash, bottle to give, meeting to run, or fund raiser to organize requires that we recognize the dwelling place is often the commonplace. Here the humble heart is the altar and worship is the language spoken over it.
“Posture, not pose” is the heart that can worship where it is put. It is the gospel lived as an act of worship to the Father. It is willingness to sit under the Creator and learn worship from the menial, the elementary, the exhausting and the undesirable.
I believe God is asking me if I can I worship from these places.
Before I answer, He reminds me that posture is not for a moment: it is for each moment.