Just a snippet from today’s reading list. I’m looking at Isaiah, and how the book might function in the life of a worshipping community. Consider this.
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the LORD.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Is it just me or does God have a headache? Caused by worship? Surely not!
Here is J J M Roberts,
Despite record breaking attendance and offerings, God, like many contemporary Christians, found the whole experience of public worship a tedious, unbearable burden. In Isaiah’s day the human crowds were still present for worship;it was God who had opted out. The problem for religious leaders then was not how to get people to come back to attending worship; it was how to get God to attend. It might be wise even in the present to look at worship from that perspective. Perhaps we are spending far too much energy trying to figure out how to adapt worship so as to interest and attract a disinterested public. Perhaps we might better spend our time trying to attract and please a potentially disinterested and increasingly irritated God.
From: J J M Roberts, “Contemporary Worship in the Light of Isaiah’s Ancient Critique” Worship and the Hebrew Bible, ed. M Patrick Graham, Rick R Marrs & Steven L McKenzie, JSOT Supp 284, 1999, 269