September 27th, 2020
(Guest-Revd Ruth Walker - Peel Cathedral Curate)
(Readings from Ezekiel 19:1-4, 25 to the end and Matthew 21:23-32)
Click to read HERE
Father we look to you to speak to us through your word.
Open our eyes and ears we pray,
help us to grow and equip us to act out in our daily lives the things we learn.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
It’s very special to be here at your Patronal festival
and to pause to remember something of God’s creation beyond our understanding at times..
of a heavenly realm of angels, who are always giving worship to God
and are ready, at God’s command, to be His messengers
and have a role as our protectors and defenders on earth.
It is good to stop and remind ourselves of what we say at Communion services…
to remember just who we worship alongside.
”therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of
heaven, we proclaim God’s great and glorious name , ever praising Him…"
So what is this worship that we share in?
Is it just the words we say and the songs we sing on Sunday when we are all together?
Is it just religious people who worship?
If you think of a crowd at a football match and a crowd at a big Christian festival,
maybe Spring Harvest or the Keswick Convention, there are some great similarities.
People smiling and singing, maybe waving a banner or their arms,
and all seeming to be in agreement that they are giving respect and honour
to someone or something!
Football fans don’t just talk about football at the match…
they read about it, think about it, discuss and enthuse about their team,
spend money on football related things and encourage others to do likewise...
God seemed to design us with a drive to worship.
One writer (*Louis Giglio) suggests that we can work out what or who we worship
by seeing where we spend our time and money, our energy and our affection, our devotion
He paints the picture of a throne and asks us who or what is on the throne?
Who am I worshiping? Is it God on that Throne?
Or are any other things threatening to get in the way of our relationship with God?
Today’s readings can be looked on as a spiritual check up,
to help us re evaluate and root out areas where we might be slipping into hypocrisy…
saying one thing, but not really believing it and living it out.
The reading from Ezekiel...
challenges us when we are tempted to want to blame others for our difficulties.
Ezekiel was speaking to those in exile in Babylon, urging them and people still in Jerusalem,
to take responsibility for their own actions and to turn back to God.
God wants us to turn away from things which stop us experiencing His life in us…
”I have no pleasure in the death of anyone,” says the Lord God.
He wants us to have a new heart and a new spirit.
To turn to Him.
We can move on with His help from problems of the past.
Or do we tend to let things from the past heavily influence our life now,
make us resistant to change, maybe even blaming others for how we are?
True, others may well have contributed to our problems,
but we are responsible for how we respond.
And what about the Gospel reading?
To put it in context, Jesus is in the temple. We have had the Palm Sunday events of Jesus
coming into Jerusalem on a donkey and then overturning the money lender’s stalls!
Jesus is definitely challenging hypocritical behaviour, but like the message of Ezekiel…
not because of an angry God who wants to point out our faults,
but because of a loving, gracious God
who so wants us to know we can keep turning to Him for forgiveness and guidance
and so wants us to experience His life in us.
These examples and remembering the constant worship and work of the angels,
make me stop and ask myself…
What is my worship? How do I worship God on Monday morning?
Wednesday afternoon?….Saturday night?
How do I respond to the shop assistant if there is a long queue and I’m feeling impatient?
Or maybe the way I choose to react to changes I’m not keen on?
Do I quickly jump to wanting to defend my own views?
Do I think about what clothes/food I buy and the impact on others across the world?
My actions definitely show what is going on in my heart…
they show where my worship is focused.
So really, my whole lifestyle is an expression of my worship…
it might be in a hymn or a prayer, but it could be described as
my reaction to that which I most value.
It speaks oceans to those around me.
I might be the Bible they may never have read,
but if they know I profess Christianity, they will be watching…reading me like a book!
I cannot be perfect, but I can be honest.
Am I believing in what Jesus offers and constantly remembering
to turn my focus towards Him?
Am I loving the Lord my God with everything I am and possess
and am I loving my neighbour as myself?
There’s an old phrase…but it has a sharp point!
If I were to be convicted of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence?
I’m NOT suggesting you don’t know these things…
but the Bible often repeats the same themes
because we do so easily forget and slip up and get diverted.
We need to keep turning back to Jesus to get us back on course…
on Wednesday night and Friday morning and Saturday lunchtime!!
Let’s pray for the week ahead:
Father we pray we might remember the wonder of the presence of your angels…
the worship we are privileged to share in…
and a life where we can express our worship of You,
every day of the week.
*In "The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life," everyone worships something or someone,because God has designed us all with the drive to worship. And, he says, people have only to study how they spend their time, energy, affection, and money to discover the current object of their worship.
Thinking about worship in light of the book’s simplest definition -- “our response to what we value most” -- is both eye-opening and thought-provoking." The Air I Breathe" goes on to urge readers to devote their worship to God (the only One who’s worthy of it) and to make worship a way of life rather than just something they do in church. Giglio’s beautiful writing -- which is full of simple, yet profound statements and fresh energy -- successfully motivates readers to ponder his points.