Tag Archives: ritual

The Blinking Cursor: Need To Write And Can’t Get Started


I am leading worship at our church this Sunday, Transfiguration Sunday in the liturgical calendar, and I’m not really ready.  To be honest, other than the bulletin material which was due Tuesday and having read the text and thought about it some, I’m totally unprepared. So there sits that blinking cursor at the start of a Word document.  The trick is to get that first word or sentence typed in, even if we may erase it soon after in favour of a better turn of phrase, or a more valid point.  Once started in the actual writing something will be on the page and you can go on from there.

As for my sermon for this week, I was pretty sure I was going to focus on the location of Moses’ and Jesus/apostles interactions with God.  You know, “location, location, location!”  Why did all these things happen at the top of mountains?  Were these mountains like the Rockies or the Himalayas or more like the Appalachian Mountains in New Brunswick which look more like hills?  Are we still supposed to be going to the mountains, and where are they?

A couple of days ago a friend of mine who is a United Church minister was on Facebook looking for brainstorming ideas for Transfiguration Sunday.  It was interesting to see the ideas that came in. The focus was largely on the transfiguration itself, what it would be like etc.  My friend is planning to focus on the fact that you are never the same after, when you come down off the mountain.  There followed, for me, a period of second-guessing.  Afterall, my idea was quite a different focus from those of others who are ordained…you get the drift I’m sure.

No one will know for sure what I will say until Sunday morning, and you would all be most welcome to come (St. James Presbyterian, 1991 Hanwell Rd, Fredericton, N.B. Canada).  I do think I will go with my first instinct though, however it may end up.  Historically, people felt they needed to go to high places to get closer to God.  The Mesopotamians worshiped at ziggurats, man-made mountains, Mount Olympus is the mount of the Gods in Greece.  The thing is, things changed forever when God entered into our world as a human child.  Figuratively speaking, he came down the mountain to us and remains with us through the Holy Spirit.  We don’t need to go to a high place in order to experience the glory of God, we may need a quiet place, or for some of us a worship space, but God has come down to us once and for all!

Six In Each Row, Did God Really Care?

I often have trouble when I am reading in the Old Testament.  Looking at all the rules and ceremony as well as reading of God calling for the death of whole populations.  This is not the God I know, the New Testament God who only requires faith of us for our salvation.

Last night I was reading Leviticus 24 in which the Lord is speaking to Moses, “Command the people of Israel…” It continues with directions for the type of oil to burn in the lamp outside the curtain of the covenant every night.  This command he says is a statute forever.  So far I was reading along ok and thinking about the menorah and how I had never made that connection on the candles being lit at night just as God showed himself in the desert as a pillar of fire at night.

The next section speaks about the bread for the tabernacle and it is at this point that I got stuck and actually had to force myself to read the rest of the chapter.  As part of the instructions of what the bread offering should be made from etc. it says, “You shall place them in two rows, six in a row, on the table of pure gold.” (v6)  It isn’t really a big deal, just directions for the offering but really, was it really God who said the six in each row part or was that a divine inspiration on the part of Moses to make the offering seem more ritualistic? 

When I imagine a person preparing this offering I am put in mind of someone preparing the communion table at church.  At a former church there was so much ritual to the preparation of the table, that one had to use the same pins to hold the table-cloth in place that had been used, apparently, since the beginning of time.  Following that of course there were exact locations for every item, where they had always been, and I’m sure that if I had been an elder preparing communion and decided to use a different napkin to cover the chalice or rearrange things for greater convenience there would have been a major uproar!

In the day of Moses all religions were very ritualistic and people would not have been ready for a god who did not require sacrifice etc.  I also believe that the Bible was given to us by the inspiration of God.  It was written by humans but is the word of God.  Do you see where the problem arises?  Would Jesus have refused to eat at the home of Mary and Martha if Martha had laid the table out incorrectly?  When we look at this passage in Leviticus, and the many more places where detailed directions are given, we can not help but to view this through the lens of the New Testament.  For me the bottom line on this one is I do not believe that God actually gave direct directions about how the loaves were to be placed on the table but even if, in Moses’ day he did I am glad that there are no such nit-picky details in the New Testament!