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Do We Have the Courage to “shut up?” Some thoughts about worship…


Devotional Thought of the Day:
Stay quiet before Yahweh, wait longingly for him, do not get heated over someone who is making a fortune, succeeding by devious means. Psalm 37:7 (NJB)

The continual recitation of the canon aloud results in the demand for “variety”, but the demand is insatiable, however much these eucharistic prayers may proliferate. There is only one solution: we must address ourselves once again to the intrinsic tension of the reality itself. In the end even variety becomes boring. This is why, here especially, we are in such urgent need of an education toward inwardness. We need to be taught to enter into the heart of things. As far as liturgy is concerned, this is a matter of life or death. The only way we can be saved from succumbing to the inflation of words is if we have the courage to face silence and in it learn to listen afresh to the Word. Otherwise we shall be overwhelmed by “mere words” at the very point where we should be encountering the Word, the Logos, the Word of love, crucified and risen, who brings us life and joy.

It happens every so often, when a worship leader or the rubrics (the small italic letters in our hymnals or bulletins) call for silence, that a musician determines that he must fill the silence with a solo.  Sure, it is well-meant, and not ostentatious. just a little light playing.

But there is a reason for silence, a reason for the awkward feeling of emptiness. the time when we are left alone with our thoughts when we need to realize they aren’t on God.

It is awkward, it even may produce a moment or two of guilt and regret.

That doesn’t mean we should ditch those moments.

In fact, we need them!  Desperately need them.

We need to enter the heart of worship, as the old worship song describes, the moment of awe in the presence of God, a presence so powerful we cannot speak.  It is not that we dare not, rather, we need to wait for God to speak.

We need to be comforted by Him, we need to enter into His presence to hear that He is taken care of our sin, and we belong with Him.

We can’t do that if we are trying to fill each and every moment with sound, with novelty, with trying to make things fresh and new.  Eventually, you can only overload people with so much, before the stimulation overload numbs them, and their participation is minimized.  ( Try playing five songs without a break, each one with the congregation clapping – how many are left at the 13-minute mark? )

I am not saying we do the stuff dry and without meaning either.  And i don’t think Ratzinger/Pope Benedict was saying that either.  Rather I think his point is making sure people realize that they are in the presence of God…..

and are loved by Him…

and have the time of silence ot know this… to realize it, not just as an academic point, but in the depth of their souls, the place that needs the most healing.  Time to descend to that place, and there, even as we cry out because of the pain, we find God at work, cleansing the wounds, healing them, comforting us…

We need this.

For it is the heart of our worship…

Lord, help us to shut up… and hear You, see You at work comforting us, and healing us.  AMEN!)


Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith: Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 73.

You Were, You are, I am! A Sermon on Isaiah 12:1-6

You Were, You are, I am!
Isaiah 12:1-6

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ bring you great comfort.

 Have you ever seen….

 He was so angry that his nostrils flared.

He couldn’t control his breathing, as his strongly worded rebuke comes out with great deliberation and focus.  His face was bright red, the kind of anger that you wonder whether his heart or mind will explode before you.

If it weren’t for the control over those words, you would wonder if there was any control left in Him.

The anger so powerful, that you can’t focus

I don’t think this is exactly what we were picturing when we chanted the gradual, when we said, “fix your eyes on Jesus…”

I think most of us have a hard time seeing God this angry, especially Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  I mean – how does a dove get angry?  God the Father maybe, but God that angry?  But then we think of the parable of the prodigal, and that Father wasn’t all that mad…

That furious?  So much so that it physically was revealed?

Who was God that mad at????

For the definition of the word angry describes someone based on physical appearance, so angry their body cannot hide it.

You were…

Who was it Isaiah was quoting when he wrote, “You were angry with me, O LORD”.

Most of us would love to point at someone else, and say – God must have been mad at, and name a name.  Most likely a name that betrayed and hurt us in the past.  Or maybe someone who is breaking the laws, or threatening our way of life, our future or children/grandchildren’s future.

This is what we need to realize, God was that angry with us.

Angry with us because of our sin, because of our rebelling against Him, angry as we rejected His love and his care.

I think sometimes we would prefer to think he was disappointed, or maybe a little upset.  That because God is understanding, that he doesn’t get emotional over our idolatry, our gossip, our sexual sin, our jealousy, and coveting.  Somehow I think we want to minimize the things we do wrong, we want to justify them, argue that their right, say that the Greek or Hebrew doesn’t really mean that its wrong, just that it isn’t as good as God would hope for us to be.


God was mad; he was angry, so angry that it caught there attention.

He caught our attention.

He was that mad at us, that angry at our sin,

There is a need to recognize this, that we can cause God so much anger that He must pour it out on someone, for if we don’t understand this, we don’t understand the cross.

We can’t understand the wrath of God that was poured out upon Jesus, that He bore out of obedience.

What happens if we don’t understand how angry God was with us, is that we don’t worry about our sin, and we continue to dwell on it, and we will struggle with the need for repentance, with the need for more than a quick “I’m sorry.”

We need to look at the cross from the point of seeing God so angry, that He needed to pour out that anger, and instead of pouring it out on us, He chose Christ Jesus.

You are…

Hear those words again,   

In that day, you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. 2  See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”    Isaiah 12:1-2 (NLT)

You were angry O LORD- not His title but His Name…
You were angry, but not any more… now you comfort me.

Now you comfort me.

All because of the cross.  Where that anger was satisfied, where the sins met the wrath of God and were consumed.  The cross where the people who had no god, who had walked away from Him saw His love overcome to His anger, and broken, and crushed, we were given life in Jesus.

Yes, we ticked God off, more perhaps than we can ever understand.

He didn’t set it aside, He dealt with it, as Christ Jesus was nailed to the cross.

He was angry, but because of Jesus- He is no longer.

And that is why we worship and praise Him, that is why we tell the world what Jesus has done.  The wonderful things He has done, that we make known around the world.

That He has brought people from around the world to hear about.

He was angry at us, not any more, now He comforts us…literally in Hebrew, He allows us to breath easy.  He allows us to sigh in relief and drink deeply of His cup of salvation!

I am…

This is the reason for our joy!  That one little verse, not even a whole verse, talks of our sin angering God, and the rest of the chapter praises Him.  It is that joy that springs up from seeing what was crushed, restored, what was broken healed.

At first, we cannot believe it, and then we are in awe… then life becomes incredibly infused with the love of God.

Hear the last words of Isaiah’s reading this morning

6  Let all the people of Jerusalem/Concordia shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”


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