Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Being Liturgical

A very busy Liturgical Calendar
I was raised in a Roman Catholic household, so catholic in fact that there was even a priest in the family (Fr. Teddy, he was a missionary in the Philippines) so yeah, I'm familiar with Liturgical. Do you realize that this coming Thursday, February 22, is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle at Antioch? This is a Catholic holiday to celebrate a wooden chair. Actually there's two Catholic holidays to celebrate two wooden chairs that the Apostle Peter may or may not have even seen. January 18th is the Feast of the Char of St. Peter the Apostle at Rome and there's even an official color that the priests should wear when recrucifying Jesus on that day (white).

This really goes beyond the pale. It's a chair! Ok, I'm not going to say that my recliner, a TV remote, and I haven't had some great times together, but nothing that would require a holy day of obligation. Liturgy is defined as a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted. In a sense liturgy means all the rites, ceremonies, prayers, and sacraments used by a church. Our little church is actually liturgical. We always have worship service on Sunday, not the Sabbath, and our service always follows the same order starting with the call to worship and ending with the benediction. (Sudden thought - passing the collection plate before the sermon: liturgical neccessity or good economic sense?)

The Bible tells us that the liturgy, if any, should include baptism remembrance of the lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-32), Prayer and praise (1 Timothy 2:1-8; Ephesians 6:18), and evangelism and discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20). That's about it, there's no requirement in the bible about golden icons, bells, incense, prayer beads, and days dedicated to worshiping dead people or their furniture.

Christians are meant to be an a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9–12) our deeds are to glorify God, not our buildings and campuses. And our liturgy is meant to be simple, which is why I am giving up Lent for Lent. It's been said that we shouldn't bother celebrating holidays, Christians should celebrate every day as if it were Easter - the Lord has risen and He will be coming back! Which is very true and very good advice...

But...I look at the example that Jesus set for us, He and His disciples celebrated the Jewish festivals such as Passover (Matthew 26:17-30) and the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:14). His followers celebrated too, they came together to celebrate what we call Pentecost, which was the Jewish festival of Shavuoth, the Feast of Weeks (Acts 2:1) and were richly rewarded when the Holy Spirit arrived at the festival. Paul too makes references to partaking in feasts in his writings (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

The Jews don't celebrate the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Tabernacles, and Passover because they like matzos, these are holidays that God mandated in Exodus 23:14–17 and Exodus 34:18-23. Setting aside days to celebrate, mourn, and remember is God ordained. Of course we are free from that thanks to the new covenant with God written with the precious blood of his son. But I think: can purging our calendar of religious holidays in our zeal be throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

Writer Graham Hancock has been utterly, painfully wrong about a lot of things, but one thing he was right about was when he said "mankind is a species with amnesia". Given time we forget everything; why are there pyramids in Egypt AND South America? We even lost the ability to read Greek, it took the destruction of Constantinople to drive the Greek literates out of Byzantium and into Europe to re-teach us the language. Look at Christmas, once a celebration of the birth of Christ it is now a celebration of a right jolly old elf. And Easter, our holiest of holidays, is being perverted by the secular world as a day to celebrate  a rabbit that lays Cadbury eggs.

Properly administered, religious festivals and religious holidays are meant to remind us of why we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God and gives us a chance to celebrate that. And it gives us the opportunity to do it with our church family. They should be God centered "pep rallies" for Team Jesus, something to give us joy and the urge to get out there and spread the gospel

I really believe that diluting or even removing celebrations from people who come together to praise God turns us into JWs, siting in a bare room, waiting for the "spirit" to move them to pray. And I wonder in those dry, dusty, joyless rooms, how often is it the spirit moving them to prayer, or their bladders.

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