The Creator of the universe wrapped in human flesh. Perhaps we’ve heard it (and said it) so many times that it has lost its shock value. The Shekinah Glory of Jehovah—His actual, physical presence—encased within the human body of a Jewish carpenter. The very thought is unthinkable to a Jew and preposterous to a Greek. And yet it forms the core of Christian Worship.

Either God became flesh or Christianity is a sham. Either the terrifying glory of God Almighty tabernacled with human beings or a small band of uneducated Jews was able to pull off the greatest, most tragic hoax the world has ever known. Either the death of that One purifies us from all sin or His life means nothing. Either the Christian story is the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality or it is rubbish. There is no middle ground.

Dreadfully, most of us are unable to fully accept either proposition. Clinging to our doubts we condemn ourselves to a life in the shallow world in between. We hate it with every fiber of our being: the doubt, the fear, the insecurity. Never fully trusting the cross we trade a guaranteed victory for a teetering religiosity. We long to escape the tormenting world of religious doubt and enter into that stronghold of rest and security—we simply don’t know how.

Escape comes to those who trust. Human redemption is God’s work, not ours. Forgiveness is rooted in divine covenant not in religious performance. All attempts to ground human cleansing in the correct performance of rituals are doomed. Human rituals expressing human religion are impotent.

But Christian Rituals are something altogether different. The rituals handed down to us from the inception of the Christian Dispensation are opportunities to reflect upon what God did for us when He took on human flesh. It is no wonder that we have so few details about the rituals. The rituals mean little when compared to the reality that they celebrate.

Either Christian Worship is a celebrative response to what God has accomplished in Christ or it is simply one more ritualistic human religion among many. There is no middle ground.