Six years ago, I went to Sicily for a conference on liturgy. It was of course wonderful to see a little of Sicily, especially the capital Palermo on the north coast of the island and the beautiful cathedral in Monreale, in the hills above Palermo.
One of my abiding memories of the ten days or so I spent there were the huge banquets we sat down to.
Conferences usually have a formal dinner that people go to and perhaps get dressed up for. But in Sicily, we had three enormous banquets, and each one was bigger and better and brighter than the one before.
The final one was on the last night and was arranged by the President of Sicily. It was astounding. We never did get to coffee, because around 1am, the waiters decided it was time to down tea towels and go home. We breathed massive sighs of relief and got on the buses to go back to bed and sleep.
The first two banquets were organised by the Archbishop of Palermo and the Bishop of Cefalù, about an hour’s drive east of Palermo. So why was each meal bigger and better than the one before?
We wondered about it, let me tell you. The answer is in this one word: honour. Oh, and the opposite of honour: shame. Continue reading
Ordinary Time 19C; Pentecost 12C; Proper 14C
Isaiah 1.1, 10–20
Hebrews 11.1–3, 8–16
Right there in chapter one of his book, Isaiah tells Israel that God does not ‘like’ its worship services in the great Temple of Jerusalem. God says,
When you stretch out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen…
So, how do you feel after a service of worship? Do you enjoy our services? Perhaps ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps I should ask how you ‘respond to’, ‘experience’, ‘appreciate’ our services.
Maybe you don’t enjoy worship all that much. If not, why not? Often, when people say that they mean the music isn’t right for them. Or the sermons are too long. Or we should have Holy Communion more often, or less ‘liturgy’—whatever that is.
Maybe we feel that the Pentecostals have got it right, with their exuberance, their songs and their spontaneity. Or the Orthodox Churches, with their mystery, icons and incense. It may even be we’re ok with the way things are.
But let’s face the real question: If God didn’t like Temple worship back then, then the real question is not what we think about worship, but what God thinks about it here in Centenary Uniting. How does God respond to our worship?