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‘What makes people do this?’

As we come and go as believers, we do so, not with cringing fear, but with a joyful confidence that as God’s adopted children we belong to Him.

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Our Rich Liturgical Heritage

By Right Reverend Dr Peter Brain

Recently our new walking path bubbler had been filled with sand which drew the ire of one of our fellow walkers. As we were surveying the scene and doing what we could to clean it out he expressed our thoughts ‘what makes people do this?’ I suggested: ‘it maybe because there is no fear of God, who sees all that we do, even when others are not looking!’ ‘Although I’m not very religious, it is a great pity that there is no teaching about God in our schools’, he replied.

What has this got to do with our Liturgies? They bring us to the God from whom no secrets are hidden and before whom all hearts are open. We are left in no shadow of doubt as to His holiness when we read the commandments, confess our sins, affirm He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and sing/say Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. How grateful we ought to be for this reality check.

It helps us comprehend the magnitude of God’s amazing grace to repentant sinners as we focus on the sacrificial death of Jesus, the Lord of glory. We come to His table not presuming on our own righteousness but relying on God’s manifold and great mercies in Christ, who then sends us back into the world as living sacrifices, in the power of your Spirit.

As we come and go as believers, we do so, not with cringing fear, but with a joyful confidence that as God’s adopted children we belong to Him, entrusted with the responsibility of hallowing our Father’s name by promoting His kingdom here on earth. Our chief motive is responsive love for all He has done for us. In serving others we reflect His love. But there are times when our love for God and others is not enough to keep us on track. This is when, I for one am very grateful that the fear of God, of letting Him down by my sinful neglect, thoughtless words and behaviour, kicks in and bring me to my senses.

There remains a residual fear of God that keeps many from dishonouring Him. But alas this seems to be quickly diminishing. A healthy fear that recognises accountability to our Creator, whether caught out or not, keeps us thoughtful of others and far less likely to cut corners. The fear of God, like the fear of heights that keeps us from jumping the safety rails at a lookout, is commended in Scripture (Proverbs 1:7). This keeps us from dishonouring God and others, but primarily, sends us to the Saviour for pardon and for help to gladly and habitually hallow our Father’s name.

There is very little Christian instruction in our schools but our individual and joint witness to the grace of God in Christ will help some to remember, that our God who cannot be mocked will come in glory to judge. I’m praying that I will be able to talk to Ken more about our own sin (like blocking our Lord’s promised living water) though far more serious than any petty vandalism, can be forgiven, and turn us into bearers of gospel refreshment, that alone can revive our often empty lives and destructive culture. The Bishop’s prayer at confirmation fill them with wonder and awe in your presence, through Jesus Christ our Lord, once our own experience, might then flow freely through us to others. Riches to share.

Published in Messenger, October 2019


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