Friday, 21 September 2018

Going Faster: Autumn Solemn Ember Day of Prayer and Fasting Two

Autumn Solemn Ember Day of Prayer and Fasting two, but not really because it is bumped by the Feast Day of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist—I’m going to treat it as Solemn Ember anyway because of my devotional OCD-ness. And since I know that Jesus said when I fast I’m not to look gloomy or disfigure my face, or, presumably, draw attention to myself so that my (extremely spiritual) fasting may be seen or known about by others like you, dear reader, I’d better not refer to it lest I lose my reward (Mt6.16-18). 

I don’t like it. Fasting, I mean. I usually feel a bit of a fraud with my not-quite-24-hour-Solemn-Ember-Day efforts during which I forgo just breakfast and lunch. Judy, my wife, says it would be more meaningful for me to give up coffee than food for the day. Sigh. I felt convicted, so today I’m drinking it without milk or cream. Black (like my spirit-of-religion heart, no doubt). 

Oops. There goes my reward. O well, there’s always tomorrow (did I just lose it again?)…

But then, I’m not supposed to like it. I afflicted myself with fasting wrote King David in Psalm 35.13. Afflicted—to cause pain or suffering to; affect or trouble. Perhaps my self-imposed version of affliction is too light and momentary (2Cor4.17). LORD, have mercy. But it does remind me of what I’m about on these Ember Days. Every hunger pang reminds me to pray, of what I’m asking God to do and that I’m totally and absolutely dependent on Him for help. 

Why bother? Because the Church is beleaguered without and within. There are scandals from the Roman Catholics to Willow Creek. Our Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) is in numerical decline in attendance and finances. In just ten months General Synod 2019 will vote on a momentous doctrinal change to our marriage canon. Earnest, heart-felt, prayer (and fasting) is vital and much needed. 

Please join us. 


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

For the Common Good Part II—an Exploration and Study of 1 Corinthians for “Anglicans for Renewal” Magazine

This appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Anglicans for Renewal magazine. Both digital and print subscriptions are available here

I hope you were able to take some time to read 1 Corinthians and to ponder the outline included in the first installment of this series. It’s rich fare for all Christians, but especially for those interested in the work of the Holy Ghost. 

1 Cor 1.1-9
First, it is instructive and significant that Paul begins with Jesus in his opening greeting and thanksgivings. Not only are his credentials as an Apostle called by the will of God in Christ Jesus, but he refers to Jesus seven more times in just the first nine verses of the letter.

According to Paul in these verses, Spirit-filled Christians are saints called by the will of God to be followers of Christ Jesus, to be sanctified (set apart and holy) in Christ Jesus, to call on his Name as our Lord as we enjoy his grace and peace, to await his revealing, sustained, guiltless and in full fellowship with him. 

Jesus is our distinctive. He is the reason for all our seasons. Jesus is The One about whom the Holy Spirit teaches us, reminds us of what he said (John 14.26) and bears witness (John 15.26). Jesus is also The One who gives the Spirit without measure (John 3.34). Through us, as we open ourselves to the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives, the Holy Spirit also teaches, reminds and bears witness to Jesus for others. 
How does Jesus sanctify us? (1 Cor 1.2)

Paul writes that the Corinthians were “not lacking in any gift” (1 Cor 1.7). How true is that for Christians today? What gifts do you feel you lack?What spiritual gifts do you have, or would you like to have, in order to reveal Jesus to others? 

How might you make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus as he is described in John 1.1-5; Heb 1.1-4 and Col 1.15-20 through you? 

1 Cor 1.10-17
Although the years in which Paul journeyed and wrote were golden years for the Christian Church it does not mean they were conflict and division free. On the contrary. Just as Jesus faced a great deal of it, so did his followers. He said himself that he came not to bring peace, but division (Lk 12.51). The disciples squabbled about which was the greatest of them (Lk 9.46). Even after Jesus rose from the dead and the amazing wonders of Pentecost—conflict with the rulers, elders and scribes continued, Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead for lying to the Holy Spirit and there was conflict between the Hellenist and Hebrew disciples over whose widows were getting more than their fair share of things. And we’re only up to Acts, Chapter 6!

The fact is that charismatic renewal, too, has brought about considerable controversy, disagreement, division and conflict throughout the history of the Church. Many priests, pastors and ministers have lost their jobs over it—Dennis Bennett, for example (whose books, by the way, are still a good read and very helpful and encouraging for those interested in things charismatic). Congregations have split. People have been hurt. Many have shut themselves off from anything to do with renewal because of things they’ve experienced or heard about. 

So, I believe that the way Paul, immediately after placing his message in the context of Jesus, gets down to divisions and quarreling among the saints is inspired. There’s nothing in the Scripture by accident and there’s nothing out of order. When people open themselves to the Holy Spirit of God, his Gifts and fruit—when people stand up straight in the faith so the winds of God can whip through their hair—it can be noisy and perplexing. There can be consternation, fear, even ridicule. Consider Pentecost (Acts 2.1-21). But remember, whenever God or his messenger shows up in Scripture, what is the first thing said? “Don’t be afraid.” So if something disturbs or frightens us it does not necessarily mean God is absent. Quite the opposite, in fact. I suggest that if there isn’t at least a little apprehension, it’s probably not God at all. 

Paul goes from Jesus to trouble because he’s being real and telling it like it is. Besides, as Michael Marshall wrote in his excellent book, The Church at the Crossroads (San Fransisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 
Conflict and tension lie at the very heart of life an there will always be plenty of it at the heart of a living and lively church. (p34)
Marshall goes on to quote Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie: 
We are not here to avoid conflict, but to redeem it. At the heart of our faith is a cross and not, as in some religions, an eternal calm. (p130)
Paul knew that Christians need to be aware of real life with all its challenges and that because we are not lacking in any gift we need not avoid conflict because we are anointed and equipped to redeem it—along with misunderstandings, fear and ridicule—by the power of the Holy Spirit and the cross of Jesus (1 Cor 1.17) working through us. 
From what fears do you need to be delivered concerning charismatic renewal? 

Read Gal 5.16-21. Are there any particular works of the flesh which might be keeping you stuck in conflict while inhibiting your availability to walk and be led by the Spirit? 

What Gifts (1 Cor 12.7-10) and Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22) are of help to you in dealing with the conflicts in your life? 


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Born to Be Wild: a Short Funeral Sermon for Colleen Sheardown—with reference to Ecc 3.1-8, John 14.1-6 and the song

Jesus, had some comforting words for his friends who he knew would soon be grieving like we are this morning. Canon Ottrey read them from John 14 just a few moments ago. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, even at times like this, believe in God, believe also in me, Jesus said. I’m going on ahead to prepare a place for you in my Father’s heavenly home. I’ll be there for you. Even in death. I promise. 

Jesus knew about the seasons and times for every matter under heaven we heard about in the first reading from Ecclesiastes, because he lived them too—times to be born and times to die—way too early in this case—and so we have this time to weep and to mourn. There’s laughter from good memories, too, but mostly it hurts. 

When we come up against real life when it comes hard, and dark and fast, we can mistake what Jesus is really like and what he is saying through his Church. It can come across as a bit soft for life as it really is—too religious and other worldly for things like motorcycle crashes. But that’s not true. Jesus lived hard and full on. He just didn’t sin. Born under irregular circumstances, driven out in the wilderness to prepare for his life’s work by fasting for forty days and being tempted by the devil. He was a rebel. Constantly at odds with the religious leaders of his day. Caused a scene at church by overturning the tables of those making money in the temple. He lived a full real life like that described in the reading I read in Ecclesiastes. We’re born, we die, we break down, build up, weep, laugh, mourn and dance, we love, we hate. Jesus experienced it all. Betrayed by a close friend, falsely accused of religious crimes, condemned by a kangaroo court, flogged within an inch of his life, crucified. Jesus knew how hard and unfair life can be. Yet, he always encouraged people to go for it—hit the road, let the wind whip through your hair, make a difference—enjoy a super-abundant life. 

Remember this? (Played the first minute or so of Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild

That’s Canadian rockers Steppenwolf playing Born to be Wild. That song was released just a few years after Colleen was born and became the theme for the movie Easy Rider. It came to my mind as I prepared for this and thought about Colleen and her love of motorbike riding (not to mention the white water rafting, sky diving, shooting off guns, thrill riding and Foam Festing—that I read about earlier). I think the lyrics in that song capture the spirit of Jesus’ words and how he said them. When he spoke people got stirred up. They were offended. They argued and tried to catch him out. They are words people like Colleen and folks who like to ride motorbikes get (although I’m not sure you associate them with Jesus—but from now on, and when you remember Colleen, I hope you do). Think of it: 

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Okay, I admit it—the gun firing is a bit problematic—but Colleen did enjoy the shooting range. And I suspect the so-called “love” Canadian rocker, John Kay and Steppenwolf are singing about isn’t the for-God-so-loved-the-world kind Jesus talks about. But it could be and it should be. So hit the road. Get out there. Love one another. Bless. Serve. Help.

The song goes on: 

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild

Nature is part of God’s good creation. We are all born into God’s good, natural created order. Colleen was. You were, so was I. 

“We can climb so high,” sings Kay.

We can. We can climb to the heights of human endeavor just by being good friends, by being good employees and bosses. We can write books and songs. We can love our husbands and wives well no matter what. We can take on the risks and joys of parenting—if that’s not looking for adventure and being wild, I don’t know what is. We can ride motorbikes, for heaven’s sake. And,

“I never wanna die,” the song goes.  

Which brings me back to Jesus. Not only are born to be wild, to be adventurous, to live life to the full, but we’re born to live forever—to never die. And just as Jesus said in that reading from John’s gospel, he is The Way to have a life that never ends, he is The Truth that never dies, and he gives The Life that never ends in one of those rooms in his Father’s house. That’s how high we can climb with Jesus if we never want to die. 

One day the Bible says the heavens will open and Jesus will coming riding on a white horse with eyes like a flame of fire. Written on his robes and thigh will be his colours which will say King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19.11-12). But, with all you motorbike riders present, I wonder what would Jesus ride in the meantime? I reckon it would be a Triumph. That would be the ride for The One who has triumphed over sin and death and before whom one day every knee shall bow. Why not ride with and for him. King Jesus. 

Colleen knew about him, so does her family. So get your spiritual motors running, head out on the faith highway, look for the kind of adventure that makes the wind of heaven blow through your hair. Be a little wild and crazy. Make it happen now. As days like this remind us, tomorrow could be too late. That would be a good way to honour Colleen’s memory and to get connected with the rider from heaven, the triumphant one, Jesus. 

Saturday, 4 August 2018

What if the whole world lived according to God’s Holy law?—my By the Way column in today’s Medicine Hat News

It’s wedding season and I got to preside at one the weekend before last (see previous post). I love weddings. I get a wonderful close up view of the bride and groom as they make their vows while all the hope, joy, love, nervousness and vulnerability involved plays across their faces. It’s lovely. And a full church always feels good. 

I also love the rich symbolism in the profound commitment the couple are making—the solemn vows, the joining of hands, the giving and receiving of rings—all in the presence of Jesus Christ, the great Bridegroom. The gravity is fitting since, in fact, marriage was instituted as an integral part of all creation in the second chapter of the whole Bible. It is something for which the world was made, just as novelist EM Forster so aptly put it. Marriage also continues to serve as a key component of God’s grand ongoing Salvation narrative through Jesus Christ who is the archetypal Bridegroom, united with his Bride, the Church. 

So it’s no wonder that when the bride and groom promise to love, comfort, honour and protect each other, forsaking all others and make their mutual solemn vows to have and to hold, for better, for worse, and so on, for the rest of their lives, that they do so “according to God’s holy law.” It’s easy to breeze past those words as we enjoy the occasion and warm feelings associated with our affection for the couple and their love for each other. But if marriage is something for which the world was made and is, as the Anglican rite says, a gift of God and a means of his grace which represents and points to the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church, then there will be holiness and definite parameters involved. 

What is God’s holy law? The Ten Commandments is a good place to start (look them up: see Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). Not a bad formula for a good, long, fruitful, life-giving marriage (or friendship, or business, or any other relationship): let the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be your God, no idols, do not misuse God’s name, keep the Sabbath as a family day, honour your folks the way you’d like your kids to honour you, no murder or adultery, or stealing, no lying or false tales and no coveting, especially your neighbour’s, or anyone else’s, husband or wife. 

Think about it. What would be the effect on marriage and family life if we lived according to those ten clear and simple standards? What would be the effect on our whole society and culture if we all just lived “according to God’s holy law”? There would be much less harm, betrayal, grief and mayhem in the world and in our families for one thing. I’d like to think the churches would be joyfully full, too, and not just for funerals and weddings. 😊

On the Medicine Hat News site here.


Sunday, 22 July 2018

Love With Teeth: a Short Wedding Homily—for Tanya Chacko and Stefan Rothschuh—with reference to 1 Cor 13.1-7 and John 15.9-12

Jesus said I love you like the Father loves me. What kind of love is that? It’s the John 3.16 for-God-so-loved-the-world kind. Steadfast. Intelligent. Determined. Always focused on the other and hoping for the best for him or her, no matter what, kind. Do you know that God loves each one of us like that? Nothing we can do, or not do, can make him stop loving us, or even love us less. That’s how Jesus loves you, Stefan and Tanya, and all of you and me. 

Then Jesus says REMAIN in my love—ABIDE in it, SETTLE into it, LIVE in it, let it soak into your bones. How is this done? How do we remain in and enjoy the love of Jesus? Keep my commandments, he said. What’s the main one? LOVE one another. This is MY commandment, said Jesus. 

How shall we love one another? Holy matrimony—marriage—is a good way, a special and delightful way designed by God in the very beginning—part of creation in the second chapter of the whole Bible. After all, as we have just heard:  
It is God’s purpose that, as husband and wife give themselves to each other in love, they shall grow together and be united in that love, as Christ is united with his Church. 
The union of man and woman in heart, body, and mind is intended for their mutual comfort and help, that they may know each other with delight and tenderness in acts of love.  
God our Father, you have taught us through your Son that love is the fulfilling of the law. Grant to these your servants that loving one another they may continue in your love until their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All of which sounds like remaining in the love of Jesus—the kind of love that makes a good marriage. So when I ask Tanya and Stefan if they will each give themselves to the other, the very first thing on the list of things they are promising each other is that they will love each other. They’ll promise it again in their vows. This love is not the the exciting, romantic love they’ve fallen in and that makes your mind go away. It is the kind of love St Paul is writing about as we heard Stefan’s grandfather, Herr Woith, read in German a few moments ago, and which Jesus says we are to remain. Love which is patient, kind, without envy, doesn’t boast, or behave arrogantly, is not rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful and without which we are really nothing but noisy, clanging, empty things.

Romantic love you can fall in and out of. Even in a good marriage. Warm fuzzies can cool with the rigors of parental sleep deprivation and life’s worries. But you can’t fall out of the love to which Jesus, St Paul and this marriage service refer. You can’t fall out of it, because you didn’t fall into it in the first place. You fell in love, then as you enjoyed that and got to know each other the Spirit of Jesus who loves you prompted you to realize this IS the one my soul loves (Song of Solomon 3.4) as it says on the first page of our leaflet, this is someone I’d like to give myself to completely, to love and to cherish for the rest of my life. This, with apologies to the dentists in the room (Tanya is a dentist—Ed.), is love with teeth. Love you choose to give. Love you then have to brush and floss and keep clean and healthy. Daily. Love which makes the smiles you share dazzling and white. Love to remain in. For the rest of your lives, no matter what, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, toilet seat up or down, messy or tidy, toothpaste tube all scrunched up or neatly rolled. 

Stefan and Tanya I hope and pray you will accept the invitation Jesus has extended today and that you will choose to remain in His love. The best way of doing that is by going to Church. That’s his Body and his Bride. Think of him as a benign and Divine Hygienist. There he will feed your souls and your relationship and keep your smiles bright. There he will keep you as one flesh so that, LORD willing, on the 21st of July, 2068, you’ll celebrate your fiftieth wedding anniversary. Mark your calendars. 

So love one another with all you’ve got. Live out and enjoy your married life together as you have begun it, in the presence of Jesus. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Something to Cling To: the Holy Spirit in the Prayer Books Part 10

The following was published in the Spring 2018 edition of Anglicans for Renewal magazine. To subscribe visit

This is number ten in our Anglicans for Renewal Holy Spirit in our Prayer Books series. The more I dig into these brilliant tools for prayer discovering and enjoying their Holy Ghost references the more I am convinced that, if you and I would just take them up and wield them faith, our strength in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Eph 6.10) would increase exponentially. We need that kind of strength because the fact is we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6.12). This wrestling goes on in our relationships, how we entertain ourselves, what we do with our money, how we do church—in our worship, vestries, councils, synods and pastoral care—in every aspect of our parish and personal lives. 

To pray the Daily Offices is to put on the whole armour of God. As I simply “take them up and wield them in faith” the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, does his supernatural thing enabling me to fasten the belt of truth around myself securely and properly. The righteousness which becomes a truly protective spiritual breastplate becomes clear. He provides me with the sensible shoes of the Holy Ghost, the shield of faith, the ultimate and eternal safety helmet, and the lectionary has me reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting the word of God, which is “the sword of the Spirit.” Praying the Daily Office keeps me “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6.14-18). 

The Canadian Book of Common Prayer was my introduction to Anglican daily prayer back in the 80s. I prayed through it thoroughly. THE ORDER FOR MORNING AND EVENING PRAYER DAILY TO BE SAID THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, PRAYERS AT MID-DAY, THE LITANY, the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS UPON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, the FORMS OF PRAYER TO BE USED IN FAMILIES. I prayed them all. Systematically. All 46+9 of the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS. I read through the lectionary. I loved it. As a result, I got to know it pretty well. So can you, and as you do, you will find it a rich Spirit filled source of prayer for all circumstances. 

When The Book of Alternative Services came on the scene, I explored the Offices and prayers in it, too. Back then I was an ordinary, if new, Anglican with a family and a job. I don’t remember it being particularly difficult to find the time to pray. I suspect that, with the Lord’s help, we are all able to find time for what is important to us. 

When I do make the time to pray and make the effort to pay attention during Sunday liturgies charismatic treats pop up when I least expect them. For example, Litany 7 in The Book of Alternative Services in which one of the petitions is this: 
For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us ask the gifts of the Spirit.
Lord, hear and have mercy. 
It is all too easy to breeze on past this charismatic treat. Let’s take a moment here to unpack it. If we were baptised as infants, our parents first consecrated our lives to the kingdom of God. We then consecrated them ourselves when we were confirmed. We continue to consecrate and re-consecrate ourselves day by day, Sunday by Sunday, as we struggle (wrestle) to follow the way of Christ as we live our lives and as we pray, read and listen to Scripture and as we enjoy the feeding our souls in the Holy Eucharist. What do we need so we might succeed in the struggle according to this petition? The charismatic gifts of the Spirit—manifestations of the Spirit given to each of us for the common good (1 Cor 12.7). Here they are again: 

πŸ”₯Words of wisdom
 πŸ”₯Words of knowledge
 πŸ”₯Gifts of healing
 πŸ”₯The working of miracles
 πŸ”₯The ability to distinguish between spirits
 πŸ”₯Various kinds of tongues
 πŸ”₯The interpretation of tongues

Not many Anglicans, or Christians of other denominations, are experiencing any of those very often, if ever. Our devotional lives and our worship are the poorer for it. So pray. Pray asking for the Lord to release the gifts of the Spirit anew. Pray that these gifts will become an obvious and vibrant part of our worship and devotional landscape. Use Litany 7 (BAS p116), or this particular petition, in your daily prayers. Work through all the Litanies every now and then. Not only will they help you focus your prayers as you pray through the things you are particularly concerned about, but I find they also remind me of things I’d forgotten to pray about. 

I’m fond of one of Sister Monica Joan’s sayings in Call the Midwife as she struggled with her dementia, 

It doesn’t matter how arrayed my mind is, or how spiritually dry I am feeling. If I just take hold of the rope, the Daily Office rites will pick me up and carry me along. As I surrender myself to the words of the liturgy and the Scriptures, they will accomplish in me what the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ purposes. They will succeed in the things for which he sent them (Isa 55.11). I don’t have to be holy, or clever, or erudite or eloquent, all I have to do is take hold of the rope. 

I cling happily still. I hope you can take a hold of the rope, too. 


Sunday, 24 June 2018

Going Live: Television Studio Drama and the Divine Drama of Liturgy

Yesterday Jude and I went out to Eagle’s Nest Ranch (ENR) to see Sparrow, written, produced and directed by Debi Stodolka, and ENR’s first foray into live drama and dinner theatre. A hard-working, talented cast acted out a story of redemption which was inspired by the book of the Prophet Hosea in the Bible. There was even a “wandering minstrel.” Sparrow got me thinking about drama and Christianity—which, some say, is the Divine Drama—and reminded me of something I wrote a couple of months ago on the subject arising out of my previous vocation as a director of television drama but hadn’t got around to posting. 

We're de-cluttering. In doing so, I came across my shooting script and floor plans for the ACCESS Network's 1984 television studio production of Sharon Pollock's stage play, The Komogata Maru Incident.

Televison studio lens protractor and Komagata Maru shooting script
A floor plan showing cast and camera positions in the studio
I produced and directed it in ACCESS's Edmonton studio. We shared a building with The Brick furniture warehouse in those days which meant that takes often had to be aborted because of The Brick's PA system announcements booming through the too-thin walls—but I digress. 

A thirty-four years younger me (left)
directing Hopkinson (Graham McPherson) and TS (Blair Haynes).
I must be one of the very few people in Canada (or anywhere now) who was trained to direct BBC style multi-camera television studio drama. I was so trained by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in the early days of my television career. 1970ish. Unlike drama shot film style, television studio drama is shot like a stage play using multiple studio cameras and sets all in one studio. All the classic British dramas like Z-Cars (which was also live!), Upstairs and Downstairs, The Forsyte Saga, and The Pallisers were shot this way

I still think such drama is a valid medium. It is a kind of cross between stage and film and has its own life and effectiveness. Studio drama can require a level of "suspension of disbelief" closer to that required while enjoying live theatre. Performances and the sense of narrative has a fluid, immediate quality which is often missing in film. You don’t see it much any more. These days most television drama is shot film style. 

Candlelight Easter Vigil Liturgy
St Barnabas Anglican Church, Medicine Hat
Good liturgy is like live television drama. There’s a script. There are costumes. A set. There is an audience—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is music. There are “performers”—the congregation. And a director—the presider. There are interruptions and  distractions, too, like the ones I experienced while trying to make television studio drama next to the Brick warehouse in Edmonton all those years ago. People in the cast are late, or don’t come at all. There’s noise. There’s rivalry and conflict. People lose focus. They don’t learn their lines properly. We stop and start. Lines are missed. Actors don’t like the way their hair is done. People miss their marks. 
Sample script for worship

Being a parish priest is rather like producing and directing a live  television studio drama. There can be lots of people, there are deadlines, budgets, you always seem to be running out of light, you are always trying to bring some order out of chaos. It can be profound and silly and great fun and it can drive you mad all at once. 

I like the Orthodox idea that their highly scripted and choreographed Divine Liturgy transcends time to become something akin to the ancient, prescribed, also thoroughly scripted worship that happened in Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. There was nothing seeker friendly in it. The worshipper didn’t get to ad lib his or her lines or choose his or her preferred contemporary or traditional style. The worshipper was not the audience. God was. God’s preferences were what mattered. Such worship was not all about the participants. It is about and for the Author. In Moses’ and Solomon’s day, God said, “This is how you are to worship Me and this is where and when and in Whose Name.” Period.

Good liturgical worship is like a carefully and faithfully scripted, live television period drama except for the cameras (although the new big-box churches do use them to project the platform action on the big screen). As we suspend our disbelief, allow ourselves to be written in to the script, learn our lines and play our God-given parts, the story of the good news of Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord, goes live.