The Prayer of
in the Book of Common Prayer is said at the end of the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. You will recall I wrote about the Offices in the
last week. Towards the end in the General Thanksgiving come the lines:
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Living the Christian life is not a matter of confessing lips as much as it’s a matter of active lives. Living in God’s service is always more than the words we say. It’s the actions we take; the bread we break.
We are living through a time when the discrepancy between words and actions has never been greater. We are devastated by the fracturing of words from actions. Words trump action never taken while lies cover up evil action. Supposedly, the person on the street says it’s no big deal. As long as the economy is booming who cares about truth?
Truth has become a completely subjective concept. If I say black is white, then it is. If I assert my lie as truth and reject another’s truth as a lie or a hoax, then who’s to seriously contradict me? A glaring example of this – the objective evidence of climate change is now dismissed as a hoax, and some people believe it.
Well the short answer to who cares is that God cares! But if that’s too remote a concern for you, then the answer is that I care, you care, we care. Jesus said be salty but beware of losing your saltiness.
When our lips are out of sync with our lives; our words are severed from our actions - we resemble the residue at the top of the salt mound - its saltiness leached out - fit only as material with which to pave the path and be trodden under foot.
Where one metaphor was good, for Jesus, two were even better! Like the salt mounds after heavy rain, when our saltiness is leached out of us, the powerful search light of truth becomes hidden in us and we easily become complicit in narratives of lies and misinformation.
You are the light of the world, Jesus reminds us. A city on a hill cannot be hid. So, let your light shine forth that others may find their way to God through you.
The shining city on a hill, the light from which cannot be hid, has been an abiding metaphor in the American imagination. However, there’s another metaphor in the American imagination - that of Gotham City. A city shrouded in darkness; a city where the expediencies of power extinguish the light of truth.
I said above that God cares about the fracturing of words from actions. How do I support that claim? Jesus proclaims that he will not take one jot away from the Law of the Lord given to Israel until the fulfillment of God’s unfinished business is completed.
Observance of living Torah and commitment to Gospel action both express God’s expectation to:
Love Kindness, and
Walk Humbly with God. This is God's expectation for our common life; an expectation that thunders through the mouths of the prophets and disturbs us in the teaching of Jesus.
So, let us with urgency recommit ourselves as we pray: ….
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and [humility] all our days.
See you in Church this coming Sunday. Why? Because it’s only as a community, humbled in worship, that we can hear God calling us.