About a year ago Hilary and I visited a church on the outskirts of our City. Beautiful acreage. Huge front hall for casual fellowship. High-tech sanctuary and stage. A very healthy population of parishioners representing most age groups. A Pastor whose sermon language is contemporary. An impressive use of video productions to refresh and entertain. An enthusiastic praise team up front with a couple of exceptional soloists.
The lights dimmed; the seated people came to order; an exciting video captured the attention and presented a ten…nine…eight Countdown to the commencement of praise and worship. Apparently this gimmick was used most Sundays to “ready” the people. The suggestion was “that we had to WIND UP for the Glory to arrive”. The whole skit went Clunk in my spirit. It was of human manufacture.
I am reminded of the lyric in the song I Can Only Imagine by the excellent group MercyMe:
Will I sing out Hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
This is the likely response of overwhelmed faith in the permitted presence of God’s Glory. Silence. Awe. Reverent expectation and wonder. Read what happened when Johnathan Edwards preached the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Nothing as expected. Weeping. Visions of Final Judgment. Inquirers crying out “What must we do?”
Nothing like that occurs in today’s popular services. Messages are about refinement, self-improvement and Christian Living as per “Focus on the Family”. The beautiful third chapter in Zephaniah speaks about THE BLESSINGS IMMINENT FOR THOSE WHO ARE SORROWFUL FOR THE SOLEMN ASSEMBLY.
I couldn’t see life-changing repentance and life-saving undergirding happening in that party-goer’s atmosphere. I couldn’t turn over the problems churning in my gut to these A-OK people with their plastic smiles.
One other observation. We were identified as visitors and given some “favours” which included chocolate candy and a pretty purple thermos coffee mug. The motto impressed on that mug read “A life without cause is a life without effect”. That apparently was the message to accompany the visitor throughout the week. Nothing in it bearing reference to Jesus or the cross at all. And that is also evidenced in the syncretic mess happening in most cowardly sermons today.
I Lamented. I Left. Their house is left unto them desolate. (Matthew 23: 37, 38)