Pastor’s Bible Reading Schedule: Deuteronomy 25-27; Acts 6
[While Pastor Berlin is away on vacation, Pastor Weigle is perpetuating this week’s Faith’s Focus.]
Processionals and ceremonies have a unique flair about them. Watching various religious ceremonies can leave you wondering what is all the “hocus pocus” about. (This phrase used by amateur magicians is believed by many to have originated from poking fun at the Roman Catholic communion ritual. Here the priest would take the bread and wine and invoke a blessing on it, “hoc est corpus,” in which it is believed that transubstantiation takes place. This is the belief that the bread and the wine miraculously change into the actual blood and body of Christ. This is simply gross and not a biblical truth.) But we also have a variety of graduation ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and military ceremonies in which a formal presentation and procedure is performed.
In Deuteronomy 26 we read about a ceremony prescribed to be observed by the Israelites when they cross over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. Once tribes got settled into their land divisions, and once the people were able to start planting and reaping crops, they were to bring the first fruits of their yield and bring it to the tabernacle (temple) to present them as an offering of worship to the Lord. In this ceremonial offering, the family bringing in their first fruits verbally acknowledges the meager beginnings of their ancestors and their past slavery in Egypt. They also acknowledge God’s generous blessing in spite of their meager start, His answer to their cries for help, and His bountiful goodness in bringing them into their new land and providing food for them in it. Moses says that once they have spoken these things, they should “set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God.” (26:10)
While many could have just gone through the motions of saying the words of thankfulness to the Lord in the ears of the Levite priests, the goal of this ceremony is aimed at worshiping God. Worship is our act of giving to the Lord the glory due unto His name. It is both humbling ourselves and exalting Him. It is positioning our hearts to acknowledge and proclaim His worth. It is not just a ritual that is performed by some and observed by others.
The strength of ceremonies is that there is a well laid out structure that helps see to it that everything that needs to be said and done is accomplished. It seems official, and perhaps lofty with grandeur. The danger is that we can find ourselves caught up in the ritualism and the polish to where we miss the purpose. If we’re not careful and attentive, a church service can fall prey to this danger. Week in and week out we come to church, sit, stand, sing, listen, and then go home. And without preparing and engaging our hearts and minds to worship, we will have missed the whole point. How did you do this past Sunday? What happened in your heart during our worship service? Was it just a ceremony or ritual, or was it a real worship service where your heart exalted God to His rightful place in your life?
“A Passion for Thee” by Joe Zichterman, chorus
A passion for Thee, O Lord, set a fire in my soul and a thirst for my God.
Hear, Thou, my prayer; Lord, Thy power impart
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.
• Lord, I want to worship you today. You have given me so much and delivered me from so many things.
• Please help me to adequately prepare my heart to meet with you each day in my time of devotions, as well as each week when I come to our church services. May it be genuine worship, and not ritual.