Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent 3 Sermon - Humble Worship

In the fantastic film Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy has to find the Holy Grail. In order to do so he must pass three traps of extreme cunning and danger. The secret to passing the first trap is the sacred verse given him by his father, "Only the penitent man shall pass". Indy makes it through by realize that a penitent man is humble before God and kneel's (thus avoiding the spinning slicing blades of death).
In this sermon from the Third Sunday of Advent we look at preparing ourselves for worship through being humble. The Rite 1 liturgy is steeped in language and prayers which leads and causes the worshipper to be place in a position of humbleness before God.

Indeed, one can not go through this service and say the things we say and do the things we do, and in all honesty not have a stance of humility and need before God. This stands in opposition to our natural propensity which is that of God owing us our due, or that we are inherently worthy of God's kindness and attention.

Instead, the heartbeat of Anglican prayer is summed up in the Prayer of Humble Access: "We do not presume to come to this Thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table; but Thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy..."

You see, God, in all his glory and power and wonder, humbled and emptied himself and came to the earth as a human baby. Not a baby in a palace in fine linen, but a baby in a food trough. What then, does humility look like for us?

C.S. Lewis points out that true humility is not an athletic person pretending to be clumsy, nor an intelligent person pretending to be dumb (because such pretending is falsehood, and thus can not be truly humble). Instead, he argues that true humility is the one who comes before God and does not look left or right. True humility stands before God 'as is', not as-we-are-relative-to-someone-else.
The humble person is the one who recognizes their unworthy nature and their utter need of God's mercy and kindness. The humble person does not presume anything, but simply trusts in the promise of Jesus, that he came to seek and to save the lost. That he came not for the righteous nor the healthy, but for the sinner and the sick.
Like a football lineman who prepares for every snap of the football by getting in a three-point-stance, true worshippers prepare to come before their Lord through a heart filled with humbleness.

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