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Friday, December 3, 2010

Simple Church Minute 25--guilt, long pastoral prayers

25—guilt and long pastoral prayers
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            Today, I’ll cover two non-biblical, post-apostolic traditions.  The first one is the idea of feeling guilty over missing a worship service.  This tradition is a more recent one, dating back only to the Puritans.  They came to North America from England to worship as they chose.  As such, they rejected the traditions of clerical vestments, icons, ornaments, and ornate buildings.  They had their clergy write their own sermons, which came to be very long, theologically in depth pieces, although they did allow those attending to speak or ask questions, unlike most traditions.  For those of you who are not into theological precision in speeches, this was boring.  Since they were both church and state at the time, they fined or put into stocks persons who missed the Sunday sermon.  They also had the Calvinist idea of acting solemn, as part of a realization of how far one was from God’s perfection.
            The second tradition is the long pastoral prayer.  The Puritans developed a tradition of allowing spontaneous prayer.  This eventually changed into a long pastoral prayer—and by long, it could be over an hour long.  Now, within some parts of Judaism, there is a tradition of a public prayer that is somewhat like a review of the major occurances of the Old Testament, but whether that somehow influenced them is not clear.
            Jesus, in Mark chapter 12 verse 40, was talking about the ways of the scribes, and one of his criticisms was, “and for a pretense, make long prayers.”  The important word is pretense.  If one or a group has much to pray about, fine.  But God wants our worship to be in spirit and truth, not pretense, not acting.  Hypocrite was the Greek word for “actor.”
            You can email me at simplechurchminute@gmail.com.  For more info about organic church*, see http://www.simplechurch.com/ or (local website).
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.”  While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better.  I comment on that in blip 94.

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