Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus the Christ,

22) Do you think all GOD wants are sacrifices — empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.  23) Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping idols.”  1 Samuel 15:22 (MSG) & 15:23 (NLT)

Active participation throughout a significant number of the formative years from about 1959-1971 were in one of the two neighborhood churches whereof I received “First Communion” and later “Confirmation”. It may be that my enjoyment of a grand procession or magnificent display in attire, commonly referred to as “pomp”, has something to do with aspects of “lavish religious production”. That is, I liked the formal procession, the incense, the Latin in both song and Scripture, the mystery of that which the Priest were doing with their backs toward me; and I especially like robes. (At the request of a graduating student, I’d participate in Commencement because it facilitated the wearing of my ridiculously expensive yet beautiful robe. Had I existed before the resurrection of Christ Jesus, I might’ve secretly desired a robe like one described by the Lord Jesus in less-than-favorable terms who loved to be seen in their robes [Matthew 23]; though surely my actions would’ve been more like those of Nicodemus who at first sought the Lord Jesus only at night [John 3:1-9 & 7:50 & 19:39], but I digress.) During the 1960’s, however, there were changes in my neighborhood church which I didn’t like. One of these changes involved what I deemed the mysterious doings of the Priest to be faced toward the congregation; the other included the use of an acoustic guitar. About thirty or forty years later, I revisited this same denomination by way of the neighbors’ invitation. Once again, I enjoyed the processional complete with the incense burning thingamajig swinging in the air; yet somewhat shocked to hear a gospel choir in the same procession. WHAT?! My beloved childhood denomination had gone from singing in Latin to an acoustic guitar strumming folk singer to a gospel choir! Of course, I jest about this particular church experience but the reality is, during that specific period of time, I hadn’t the revelation that what God the Father desires is relationship with each of us reconciled unto Him as sons and daughters by the blood of Jesus; and that adhering to His always good advice by the Teaching of the Holy Spirit means more to Him than empty rituals. The Sovereign Lord God Almighty says what He means and does what He says; God never goes back on that which has gone forth out of His mouth (Isaiah 55:8-11). The way of the world, however, has desensitized man (i.e., male, female) to both the lie as well as reneging on one’s own word. The redemptive work of Christ Jesus has “made us kings and priests unto God the FatherRevelation 1:6 (KJV). May we endeavor to listen and adhere to God’s always good advice; that those outside of the Kingdom of God may desire to draw nearer to Him through Christ Jesus; and that those of us who are citizens of God’s Kingdom may come to know fullness of life by the abundant seed of His Word and sowing it for the overflow thereof, to establish God’s covenant in the earth.

Speak the promise . . Harriet