On 7 August, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Isaiah 1:1, 10-20, Psalm 50:1-8, 23, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40.
Imagine arriving at church, either offline or online, to be greeted with the question: “What are you doing here?” I think you might be quite surprised. What about the warm welcome, the pleasure in seeing you again, the hope that you have a good day, an invitation to stay for coffee afterwards, and so on?
Worshippers in Isaiah’s day were greeted with much worse, as God spoke through his prophet. God makes a list of what he doesn’t like about the people’s worship:
He’s ‘had enough’ of burnt offerings.
He does not ‘delight’ in the blood of the sacrifices animals.
The movement of the feet of worshippers he calls ‘trampling’.
The offerings are ‘futile’.
Incense is ‘an abomination’.
He ‘cannot endure’ the various assemblies.
He ‘hates’ the appointed festivals.
The worshippers are ‘a burden’ to him.
He is ‘weary of bearing them’.
We have to ask if this is the same God who says in Psalm 50: ‘I will not reprove you for your sacrifices, for your burnt offerings are always before me.’ Surely it was God who had instructed Moses in the system of sacrifices, new moon festivals, sin offerings, thank offerings. It was God who decided on the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Why suddenly decide that all this was to be swept aside? Why the overwhelming dislike for all things religious? Continue reading