Monday, April 13, 2015
Loss of reverence -- cause or symptom. . .
Someone has done a study to show that the Boomers (my generation) were less likely to attend worship than their parents and their children even more less likely. It stands to reason that their children will be even more distant from the Lord's House on the Lord's Day. In other words, you cannot blame Vatican II and its after math both in Rome and outside of Rome for all our problems today. Of course, this is correct. The transformation of worship into a self-centered and a self-serving entity has sealed the deal but our souls were already restless and itchy for change.
We have lived too long to believe the tempting lie that if we all went back to page 15, to Thees and Thous, and to the good old hymns of long ago, everything would change. I have personally been in worship services where the liturgy was wonderful but the people were not. What we need is nothing less than a wholesale rediscovery of sin and its painful reality. Only when we know fully the consequence of sin and our garden rebellion will we awaken to the immensity of God's gift in the person of His Son to be our Savior. Jesus the life coach commands little in the form of respect or awe but Jesus the God-man who lives the holiness we cannot and dies wearing our guilt, well, that Jesus compels us to honor Him.
Repentance. That is the key. And before we hear and heed the call to repentance, we must be convinced that sin is real, that death is our enemy, that Satan roars about seeking to devour us, that evil is more than not getting what you want, and that none of us can contribute one bit to the big fix our sinful condition needs. It is an old fashioned word in a world where self-interest prevails but it is the word that dare not be far from our lips and its call far from our ears. It is what happens in the preparation for the Divine Service each Sunday, privately with the Pastor during the week, alone in our thoughts and prayers, and the uncomfortable awareness that grows with our study of God's Word. We are dead in trespasses and sin and cannot free ourselves. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Beat the chest. Let out the sigh. Choke back the tears. This is the repentance that the Spirit bears as its fruit in our lives -- from this grows faith and hope and trust and from nothing else.
Yeah, contemporary worship that glories in technology and elevates our love of self to virtue is bad. It is real bad. But it is the bad we love to hear, the lies we love to tell, and the deception with which we are most comfortable. It has born terrible fruit in our lives and worship that is for me, of me, and about me is one of those poisoned fruits -- not the cause but the fruit of a life of self-awareness of everything but sin and its death. Loss of reverence is not merely caused by our worship troubles -- it bore this rotten fruit and taught us to love what is killing us.