Sunday 12 September 2021

One of the things my rather taught me young was that repetition is good. It is not the first time that you read the times tables and recite them correctly that you have learned them, but the hundredth. To this day, I say the Lords Prayer as it was in the Book of Common Prayer and the old Presbyterian Book of Order, because that is how I first leaned it and said in most Sundays. One of the reasons that liturgy matters, and the words of the hymns we sing matter, is because we say them and sing them over and oer, and they become ingrained.

And yes, the songs get repeated here. Not infrequently. Deliberately.

One of the commentators noted that singing worship and praise before deep prayer is needful, because otherwise we don’t have the mindset that allows us to approach God.

I would add that worship allows us to handle things that normally we cannot. Worship matters. We know this: we fight at times about worship and liturgy more than we ought, to the point of breaking unity. Because getting this correct is important.

However, in worship I find that theological and liturgical correctness is not enough. We need to seek God. If we do, particularly corporately, we will find him.

But if we seek the approval of others, we will not.

Keep, we beseech thee,
O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy;
and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall,
keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
    him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
    he awakens my ear
    to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
    and I was not rebellious;
    I turned not backwards.
I gave my back to those who strike,
    and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
    from disgrace and spitting.
But the Lord God helps me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
    He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
    Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
    Let him come near to me.
Behold, the Lord God helps me;
    who will declare me guilty?
Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;
    the moth will eat them up.

Isaiah 50:4-9

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James 3:1-12

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:27-38

Christ clearly knew what he was to do. He set his face towards Jerusalem, despite a full knowledge of the pain and humiliation in store, and went there. We are called to be like him, and go to where we are called.

As a place, as a time. It would be far nicer to live in a time that is not historically and spiritually significant, but we are called to witness to an apostate west. This is not about polite praise of the approved and official prophets (false) of the narrative (generally more lies than truth). This is about the truth of our state.

This is about our need for Christ

This is about the glory of God.

And all these things will make the elite seethe. Expect their disapproval. Expect them to try to enforce compliance by threatening your employment, your status, your license to work, you children, your pastor, your fortune and your sacred honour.

But know this: there is no other name, under heaven or earth, that can reconcile you with God, but the name of Jesus.

As he hardened his face and carried his cross, so must we.