Familiarity breeds contempt. This quote is attributed to Publilius Syrus, a Roman author during the 1st Century B.C. As you just saw on the video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx4UFB0XBGw ), the most simple of journeys can become very frustrating if you lose sight of where you are, and where you are going. Our Western minds have become so accustomed to everything being taken care of by “them” that we forget how to deal with problems ourselves.
The Liturgical observance of Lent began this week. For the most pious observers, this involves giving up meat and most “pleasant food” for the period of time leading up to the celebration of Easter, the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
These churches remove the fine brass or gold fixtures in their worship centers, like candlesticks and urns, and replacement with iron or wooden fixtures. The beautiful flowers normally adorning the pulpit are replaced by leaf-less branches cut from a tree. It is a time of mourning and self-deprivation to identify with the suffering of Jesus as He was crucified in our place on the cross. Lent is preceded by Fat Tuesday. The custom is to eat pancakes on this day in order to consume all of the yeast in the house. It was part of the cleansing preparation of the home for the period of Lent that would follow. This time of self-deprivation would culminate with an all night prayer vigil on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
Then on Easter Sunday morning the worship center transforms by returning all of the fine fixtures to their rightful places. Fresh flowers are placed in the room to signify life has returned. Our Lord and Savior is risen from the dead. He lives so that we can live. I understand why most Charismatics, and other non-liturgical denominations have moved away from these types of celebrations. They are viewed as “dead works” of the flesh. The responsive readings, antiphonal singing, and written prayers can give place to vain repetition. I understand that.
However, like most things, if you are able to keep the original intent of the liturgy in mind, and let it continue to be relevant to the worshipper, they can create an object lesson that can have great impact on one’s faith. Just as with all fasting, Lent is intended to bring the body under subjection to the Spirit. I’m not suggesting we take up the practice of liturgy in our worship. I would like to suggest, however, that we keep the truth represented by the liturgy at the forefront of our thinking.
What if we really had a heart-knowledge of, and an active mental understanding of things like the Apostles’ Creed:
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
I’m glad that we celebrate communion each week. This places us in a very small minority of non-orthodox churches that do so. Without a regular reminder of what Christ did for us, we can easily get sidetracked and lulled to sleep spiritually. We can become “stuck on an escalator”, unable to see that we can very easily walk to our freedom. Each time you take the cup and wafer, remember that Jesus was born of a real virgin, Mary. Jesus lived a real life, tempted to lie about His playmates as a child, tempted to steal from His neighbor, tempted to be disrespectful to parents or others in authority. Remember that Jesus died on a real cross, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. He shed real blood. He was buried in a real tomb. Remember that He actually was raised from dead. Remember that He actually ascended to a real heaven. Remember that He sits at the right hand of a real God, that occupies a real throne; that is King over a real Kingdom.
Remember that, according to Ephesians 1 & 2, you also have been really crucified with Christ; you have really been buried with Him, resurrected with Him. Remember that, as a believer, you have actually ascended to Heaven with Him, and are now seated with Him in heavenly places, far above all rule and power and dominion and every name that is named.