Touch, Worship

Song challenges us to be authentic followers of Jesus

This is Holy Ground

Verse 1
When I walked through the doors,
I sensed His presence,
and I knew this was a place where love
For this is a temple
the God we love abides here,
and we are standing in His presence on holy
We are standing on holy ground,
and I know that there are angels all around.
Let us praise Jesus now,
we are standing in His presence on holy
Verse 2
In His presence I know there is
joy beyond all measure,
and at His feet,
sweet peace of mind can still be found.
For when we have a need,
He is still the answer,
reach out and claim it
for we are standing on holy ground.

THIS IS A SONG whose chorus is commonly linked together with Christopher Beatty’s song “Holy Ground” and sung in most Singapore Methodist churches. This familiar work was com-posed in 1979 by Geron Davis, then 19 years old.

In the book, Our God Reigns, Davis recounts how he procrastinated in writing a new song as requested by his father, the pastor who was overseeing the inaugural worship in the new church building, till the eve of the worship event. (For more information, see Phil Christensen and Shari MacDonald, Our God Reigns: The Stories Behind Your Favorite Praise and Worship Songs).

The question he asked himself as he sat at the piano and wrote the song was “What do we want to say when we come into this place for the first time?”

Drawing appropriately from Exodus 3: 5, where Moses encountered God, the former was instructed to remove his sandals in the presence of the Holy God.

Indeed the question that we need to ask ourselves as we congregate for worship is whether we too have made an effort to remove our sandals when we gather.

However, before we excitedly institute this symbolic act in our worship services, we need to understand the subtext of this action. In my view, this simple act that Moses was told to carry out conveyed the sense of respect and humility required in his approach to the presence of God. Furthermore, by removing his sandals, Moses’ feet were exposed and made vulnerable to the stones that might pierce his feet. Equally important, could it be said that through this act Moses was made aware of his frail human nature?

Likewise, have we chosen to be vulnerable to God in our lives? Have we metaphorically loosened and cast away our protective sandals when we come be-fore our Holy God, or have we persisted in still being clad with our self-importance and obstinately chosen to wear masks of wellness when we fully know that our personal human condition is far from good and well?

May we be aware that God loves a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:7). This song “Holy Ground”, in its simple yet lyrical way, challenges us to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ – to draw near to God with faith, to live our lives in Christ-likeness such that when we assemble to praise God we gather expecting to encounter the holy presence of the triune God just as the prophet did in Isaiah 6.

For your viewing pleasure: accessed 15 May 2009.

Dr Lim Swee Hong is Lecturer in Worship, Liturgy and Music at Trinity Theological College.