The main focus of this BLOG, is to uphold those simple, and clearly defined truths, that are so often missing from Christian life and conversation.
(There may also be the odd film or book review along the way as well as stories from my life)
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Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Priestly Robes

Have you ever wondered what it was like, when the priests in the Temple brought the sacrifices to God?

To me the scene is almost unimaginable, the most bizarre of spectacles. The shedding of blood, bullock after bullock, goats and sheep for the slaughter. Carcasses burnt to charcoal on the altar. Fat fires flaring under the hot Judean sun.

It would have been unbelievably messy, sweaty, smelly back breaking work. It was sacrifice.

But this is just one aspect of the Priestly office. Their main purpose was to represent God to the people, and the people to God. Until recently I don't think I had ever really seen this in action. That is, until I stepped in to the 2015 Hillsong Conference.

It was on the Tuesday evening after the main rally had ended. Joel Houston, with the United band, stepped onto the stage to lead the final worship session of the night. As I have seen him do on previous occasions, Joel brought nothing of himself to the microphone. On this night, as he introduced the song "Prince of Peace" I saw Joel, metaphorically, put on priestly robes.

It was the role of the High Priest to carry the burden of the people of Israel. Symbolized by the graven stones sewn into the priests ephod.

Joel, with faltering voice, reached out to the crowd to talk about the struggles we face in life. He invited us to lay them before God, to open our hearts and trust Him just a little bit further. To lay them on the altar.

But not only a priest, Joel became a shepherd, leading his flock to drink from still waters, inviting us to dine at a table, laid out in the midst of our struggles.

Not everyone in the Christian Church likes this style of worship. The style that is typified by Hillsong, United, Jesus Culture and others. I recently read an article by one such critic. You can read this article by Mike Livingstone if you want. I agree with  some of his points. I agree that the one thing a Christian should never do on any platform is to point to them self. But I can't help wondering, when I read articles like this, if maybe the issue is just that they don't like the method.

On more than one occasion, I've heard the words "Christian Rock" spat out of the mouth like an expletive.

Later in that same week of Hillsong Conference, I had the joy and pleasure of sitting in on a worship set led by Martin Smith, the former front man for Delirious. I have loved this mans music for many years now. In particular I was thrilled to hear him play a favourite song from the Delirious playlist. The song is called "Obsession".

My connection is not with the song, and it is not with the man. The words of the song speak to my human condition, my personal struggle to walk out my beliefs. It points me to Jesus. This song was for me a beautiful moment lost in surrender, arms stretched wide. In the midst of the song, the lights, the video screens, the people around me, there was an invasion of stillness.

Is the scene on the modern church stage really all that different to the scenes of the early temple?
With loud celebratory songs of praise, the smoke and flame of the sacrifice, the sun bouncing and glinting off burnished bronze and polished gold, off the jewels on the priestly garments.

As I stood in the midst of that auditorium. As waves of sound crashed over me, I had a thought.

Some people, Christians, will point and say. "THAT'S NOT WORSHIP".

But sometimes.

It just is.