worship with warrant

A typical worship service in my church goes something like this:

  • Call to worship (“Let us begin our worship…”)
  • Singing, a capella, some verses of the psalms
  • Prayer
  • Scripture reading
  • Another psalm singing
  • Sermon, expounding and applying some part of scripture
  • Another prayer
  • Another psalm singing
  • Benediction

Some aspects are less critical than others – it doesn’t really matter what order the praying and singing comes in, or how often you sing and pray – and as appropriate, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper will also be administered in amongst more prayer and praise.

What is critical, however, is that the various components of the service are all legitimised by scripture. The last thing you want, as would-be worshippers, is to be flummoxed by the question, ‘Who has required this at your hand?’* Since worship is part of what we owe to God, the God of infinite perfection, the God of grace – he deserves it, he demands it – and since we presumably intend to honour him by it, it is essential to be certain that whatever we offer by way of worship is acceptable and honouring to him, whether that’s in the context of collective worship in the church, family devotions in the home, or personal worship in the privacy of our own rooms.

He hasn’t, in fact, left us to our own imaginations in terms of what we counts as acceptable worship. Our penitent and thankful hearts have a variety of channels to express themselves in, according to the scriptures. These are known sometimes as the means of grace – prayer, reading the Word, hearing the Word preached by gospel ministers, the singing of psalms, psalms, and psalms, participating as frequently as possible in the Lord’s Supper, being baptised once yourself and witnessing the baptism of others, fasting, meditating on the Word, fellowshipping with other Christians, and so on.

These are all scriptural ways of expressing the fact that we know the Lord and love the Lord and want to live obedient lives which will honour him. And that’s scriptural in the sense that these things are authorised by scripture, not only that they’re not directly ruled out by scripture, which is the distinction that has been so much insisted on particularly in the Scottish context that I’m coming from – the scriptures are both comprehensive and authoritative in the guidance they give in the matter of worship, just as in every other aspect of life.**

There is of course a difference between the forms of worship under the Old Testament and now under the New Testament. (The forms, only, since the same believing, penitent, adoring spirit/attitude/heart is required from everyone everywhere at all times.) The church in the Old Testament had a huge amount of extra work on their hands, observing rituals for all sorts of things, in ceremonies which were minutely detailed in the books of Moses (and which shouldn’t be disparaged even now, as they were God’s ordinance at the time for symbolising or typifying the person and work of the Messiah to come). Nothing like this level of detail is laid down for New Testament worship – but what the prescription of the ceremonies teaches is that extreme care and caution should be characteristic of any individual or group of people who set about to worship. Without authorisation, nothing can be acceptable, even in New Testament times, and the lack of NT guidance on matters which were dealt with in the OT (furniture in the temple, routines associated with the burnt offerings, and so on) is itself argument against innovating our own procedures for analogous or derived rituals in the NT, when it is acknowledged on all hands that the death of the Saviour marked the end of the OT era and the abolishing of the ceremonial law.

Although our whole lives should be dedicated and devoted to the Lord and his glory – even eating and drinking and whatsoever we do should be done to the glory of God – yet there are times in our daily (and weekly) lives when we need to step aside from our ordinary business and deliberately set ourselves to the task/privilege of worship, and that’s when we need to know that what we do is not disqualified from the outset by being (i) “will-worship,” something which we want to do off our own bat and might make us feel good but is offensive to the one we’re purporting to worship or (ii) “vain,” teaching for doctrines the mere commandments of mere men, as well as more generally (iii) defiled by being undertaken with an attitude of contempt, or resistance, made a disguise for sin or an attempt to cancel out sin, and so on. In guarding against (i) and (ii) particularly the scriptures are our only reliable, and wholly sufficient, resource.

‘For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.’

_____________________
* I know that this question was addressed to the Church in the Old Testament, not so much to query the forms of their worship (which were all scriptural) but in the context of a rebuke for their making a mockery of divine worship by observing the correct forms while continuing to lead rebellious and sinful lives in their relations with each other. But this only adds force to the requirement to be careful how we worship – the heart has to be right and the format has to be acceptable, because worship is a serious matter.
** My co-religionists might recognise this as the regulative principle, and the mention of it has reminded me to make the point that this principle isn’t (really) recognisable in works such as John Frame’s Worship in Spirit and Truth, whatever the claims and intentions behind it might be. A discussion for another day, perhaps.

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23 thoughts on “worship with warrant

  1. Indeed, a good exponent of the position taken. In the light of the kind of concerns I have, though, I suspect you’re going to want to nuance the basic principles.

    However, I’m not convinced by the basic proposition; that only what is explicitly legitimated by scripture is ‘kosher’. I’m pretty certain that a couple of hours spent experiencing this corporate worship would yield many examples of things used in worship that are not expressly legitimated by scripture. What is interesting would be the fall-back positions then generated to deal with these ‘exceptions’, which almost certainly would allow (when pushed to logical outcomes) for other things currently not regarded as ‘kosher’ in that set-up. Similarly, I would guess that there would be a number of things explicitly called for or encouraged that would not appear, and again the reasons given for not having them in there might well open up something to drive a coach and horses through …

    The other thing I worry about is that this seems to end up focussing on forms (or the absence thereof) at the expense of worshipping ‘neither on this mountain or that … but in Spirit and in truth’. I also can’t get out of mind in this connection, the woman who worships Christ with expensive nard to the scandal of the apostles … somehow the spirit of that offering seems uncharacteristic of the kind of worship you describe.

    And then there’s my other worry; where is the pattern of the Lord’s prayer in this? I think that if you are looking for explicit guidance in scripture about conducting worship, that pattern should figure; how come it’s not there?

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  2. Hi Andii re your last point: the prayers generally are along the same lines as the Lord’s Prayer.

    So they include adoration, confession of sin, petition and supplication, intercession and supplication for others, thanksgivings for mercies, etc.

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  3. Andii, re your first point, the exceptions – this might be true, but unless you air your suspicions we’ll never be able to say :)

    I think i tried to say that both the forms of worship and the spirit of worship are important. Nobody can really worship in spirit and in truth unless they’re born again, ie worshipping a God who they personally know and love and trust. On the whole i’d agree with the position that it’s the heart that matters most in worship, but that doesn’t mean that the forms are irrelevant. Like i say, what’s in the heart has to be outwardly expressed one way or another – and an obedient heart will surely want to express itself in the ways and forms that are reliably known to be acceptable to the one who’s being worshipped.

    Re the alabaster box of precious ointment – a beautiful story – we need to distinguish between things that are appropriate in individual circumstances, where we need to have a continually worshipping spirit that takes every opportunity to express itself, including in ordinary eating/drinking/whatever, and things that are appropriate for collective worship (the whole congregation isn’t meant to collectively follow the practical deatils of this example)

    The reaction of the disciples – well, she probably was leaving herself vulnerable to accusations of impropriety in some aspects of what she was doing, and maybe that was ill-advised, because it’s a pity to let your devotions be an occasion for other people to be shocked, even if the Lord who sees the heart sees that there was no intention to be shocking/provocative. But what was in her heart is (i hope) shared in its essence by worshippers in congregations who use the forms i’ve outlined – her love and selflessness and concern for the honour of the Saviour is surely shared by present-day believers too – we surely follow the footsteps of Araunah in the OT who said, I give it all, and the people who gave willingly to the tabernacle, and the widow who gave the two mites. Etc.

    Re the Lord’s prayer – Ruth basically said it all :) The pattern of the prayer is very much used in all our public/congregational prayers. I don’t think it would matter to recite it congregationally, altho we happen not to do that, but we do certainly pray ‘after this manner.’ Personal prayer too should be done according to the pattern of the Lord’s prayer – i assume that’s how most people do pray personally, either using the form in Matt 6 or filling out the petitions to meet their personal needs/desires at the time. There’s a whole section of the Westminster Catechism devoted to exploring what the various components of the Lord’s prayer consist of (actually both the Shorter & the Larger) – it’s a framework for prayer which should be very much part and parcel of the christian life (individually, in the family, and in congregations)

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  4. If Christ wished us to take the forms of our worship from the NT why are they not contained in the NT?

    It is clear that the Apostolic Church observed rites which are not described but only alluded to in scripture. The same is true of the OT though the basic rites are much more extensive and thus receive far more description.

    The forms of worship in the OT were not ‘scriptural’ it is impossible to reconstruct the liturgy of the Temple or the Synagogue based on Scripture alone. There were elements established by God that are not recorded in scripture there were elements established by the people, the kings or the priesthood that were legitimate and observed by Our Lord. Christ Himself said that the Pharisees sat in the chair of Moses. He observed the Feast of the Dedication and participated in the Synagogue liturgy. St John ascribed ex officio prophetic powers to the High Priest. In the NT as in the OT we are to hold fast to both to written revelation and that passed on by word of mouth and God has established an authority competent to interpret revelation and to provide secondary judicial and ritual legislation.

    Just as the full details of the worship of the OT are not given in scripture, it is clear that the Apostles observed rites such as baptism, the eucharist, confession, anointing the sick, laying on hands, ‘the prayers’ etc. about which the text of the NT gives us very few details.

    All those churches, the Catholic Church, the Orthodox and autocephalous churches which can trace their origin to Apostolic times assert that there are seven essential rites of the NT with subsidiary rites instituted by the authorities established by the Apostles.

    The form of worship you describe is arbitrary. Rejecting the authorities Christ established to teach, sanctify and govern the faithful, ignoring the context of the sacred texts on principle and treating those texts as if they were – what they patently are not – systematic manuals of doctrine and liturgy, protestant ecclesial communities have constructed an imaginary liturgy without authority or coherence. It is as if the tribe of Dan had dispensed with the priests of the old law, stopped performing all those elements of the rite they could not find in the Pentateuch, invented ways of performing the remainder that were deliberately constructed to look nothing like the rites as performed up to that point and filled up the empty hours by reciting passages from Deuteronomy chosen at random before settling down to listen to the tribal elders’ novel, extended and trenchant opinions as to their meaning and significance.

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  5. Thank you Aelianus for another lengthy and wide-ranging contribution.

    The forms of worship which Christ wants us to follow in NT times are found in the NT. The only reason you can believe they’re not, is if you have an a priori commitment to some source of authority other than the scriptures. Such a commitment is an immediate problem if you’re intending to worship God in a manner that God finds acceptable, because we cannot reliably know the will of God apart from the scriptures.

    It is not at all clear that the apostolic church used rites which are not described in scripture (rites as rites, rather than customary practices which could-or-could-not be observed). You claim that there are very few details about some of the practices which are mentioned in the NT, but you provide no metric for quantifying few – if you mean that many components of your version of some practice (such as the eucharist) are not specified in scripture, that’s more of a problem for you, in terms of justifying where you get the extra components from, rather than a criticism of a position like mine, which follows the guidance that’s given without adding in any extras. (You have also, incidentally, collapsed together several separate kinds of practice in the list you give – the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper need to be distinguished from things like connfessing our faults one to another, anointing the sick, laying on of hands, and so on, and of course from prayer itself.)

    I’m also not sure why you think that it’s impossible to reconstruct the OT liturgy based on scripture alone. The ceremonies are set out in exhaustive detail in the OT – these were what the people observed, and what they were hedged in to by scripture with serious warnings and exhortations about observing all and only the ceremonies that were divinely instituted. Eg Deut 4. Additionally I don’t see the force of the examples you cite – we’ve already discussed the feast of dedication, but what are you trying to argue by mentioning that the pharisees followed in Moses’s footsteps and the fact that the high priest prophesied?

    Although it’s of course essential to hold fast to God’s revelation, it’s clear that any body of doctrine which is passed down by word of mouth is only worth holding on to to the extent that it conforms to the authoritative revelation given in the scriptures – and anyone claiming to provide authoritative interpretations of the scripture needs to be held account themselves to scripture as the ultimate authority.

    In short, the form of worship which I describe is not arbitrary: it is squarely based on the scriptures, which are themselves the authoritative statement of what God has established for teaching, sanctifying, and governing us. Although the scriptures are not (wholly) systematic manuals of doctrine and liturgy, they still contain everything we need to know about what we are to believe and how we are to live and worship, and criticising their authority and sufficiency isn’t really something to be undertaken lightly, far less as a matter of principle.

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  6. A couple of afterthoughts – i meant to mention in #7 that often in public prayers in church people do use the exact wording of different sections of the Lord’s prayer (eg, Our Father, thy will be done, thine is the kingdom the power and the glory) – even tho i’ve hardly ever if ever heard anyone use the exact wording in full on its own. It might be more common in family worship, perhaps as the concluding prayer in the worship. But the general practice as far as i’m familiar with it is to make the wording in Matt 6 the framework for more elaborated/wide-ranging and/or personally/contextually relevant forms of address, petition, etc.

    And i also meant to check about Araunah – the place i was thinking of where he says, ‘I give it all,’ is in Chronicles, where he’s actually called Ornan – in the account in Samuel where he’s called Araunah he isn’t reported as saying those exact words. Just in case the araunah story didn’t sound convincing enough :)

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  7. The scriptures do not contain everything we need to know about what we are to believe and how we are to live and worship. This is not a criticism of scripture, scripture itself points this out. To suppose scripture would fulfill this function is to misunderstand what scripture is.

    Christ said to those he appointed to preach ‘He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ Paul commands us to ‘stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter’. John tells us that ‘there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written’ Christ Himself commanded the Apostles ‘make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.’

    The concept of sola scriptura is self refuting because it appears nowhere in scripture but rather is repudiated by scripture. Furthermore, the canon itself was established by the authority of the Pope. Why do you not include the Epistle to the Laodiceans in the canon? If other apostolic writings were discovered would you expand the canon? Writings claiming to be Apostolic abound how do you know they are not inspired? If the vast majority of academics rejected the apostolicity of certain books in the canon would you, like Luther, remove them? With no final authority other than scripture what you call scripture only exists on your own authority. With no final authority other than scripture the meaning of scripture is based on nothing other than your own authority. This fact is reinforced by the fact that very very few people who accept scripture as inspired interpret it as you do. Furthermore, the earliest historically attested Christians used figurative art in worship, held the Eucharist to be the literal body of Christ, acknowledge the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome and the necessity for true Christians to submit to the Episcopate. So your canon is your own invention, your interpretation is historically unknown before the sixteenth century divorced from all context and founded on your own authority. You bear witness to yourself.

    If the Bible was to be the final arbiter of doctrine in the Church why did Christ give authority to the Apostles to bind and loose and promise Peter his faith would not fail and that he would strengthen the brethren and tend the sheep? Why did Christ make no mention of the NT? Why did he not write it Himself? Why did He not command anyone to write it? Why did seven of the twelve write no inspired texts? Why is the NT composed of non-systematic occasional writings? Why does only one of the NT works and only in passing ever refer to the existence of NT scriptures and then only to mention that their meaning is easily distorted?

    Just because you read out a lot of scripture doesn’t make your worship scriptural. True scriptural worship is that established by Christ and guarded by the authorities which scripture tells us Christ established.

    Christ commands us to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, He commands us to ‘do this in memory of me’ in regard to the Eucharist, He gave the Apostles power to forgive or retain sins. You say that confession, anointing the sick (which the Apostles did during Christ’s earthly ministry and afterwards), the laying on of hands (for office or the gift of the Spirit) must be distinguished from other practices but you give no reason.

    Do your ministers anoint the sick and absolve men of their sins?

    At the last supper Our Lord said “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you”. Why do you not accept the washing of feet as a sacrament?

    The seven sacraments universally observed by those churches with apostolic succession have an essential form and matter which is very brief it is the surrounding readings and prayers and songs which are instituted by ecclesiastical authority.

    Your position is based firmly on tradition but it is a man made tradition derived from Switzerland and Scotland. This tradition doesn’t even claim divine warrant. It doesn’t even claim the authority which would be necessary to warrant it.

    Does your organisation claim to be the ‘pillar and bulwark of the truth’? If not, how can it be the Church founded by Christ?

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  8. Hi Aelianus could you please say where in the Bible we are told that it does not contain everything we need to know about what we are to believe and how we are to live and worship. I have been looking for it but I can’t find anywhere that says that.

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  9. “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,” 2 Peter 1:20

    “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” 2 Thes 2:15

    “there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” Jn 21:25

    “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” Jn 5:39-40

    “the Church of the living God is the pillar and bulwark of the truth. ” 1 Tim 3:15

    “also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-13

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  10. Revelation was given by letter and word of mouth, we must hold fast to both.

    In its written form it requires interpretation.

    The individual is not competent to give this interpretation.

    Without the correct understanding of revelation the scriptures will not give life because they will not lead to Christ.

    Read incorrectly they will lead to destruction.

    The Church of the Living God to whom the scriptures and all the deposit of faith was given, who determined the canon, of whom it is is said ‘who hears you hears me’ is the pillar and the foundation of the truth.

    She is the sole authorised interpreter of scripture and the guardian of the deposit of faith.

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  11. Up till your last sentence in #15 most of what you say is unobjectionable, although not strictly an exegesis of the texts in #13.

    Re #11, i’m in two minds about how and whether to respond. You must know that there are consistent, coherent, and scriptural responses to all the points you raise, and you must also know that lumping so many disparate issues into the one post after failing to take on board the points made in #9 kind of makes it look like you don’t really care about the discussion as such and would rather just rant. Am I being unfair?

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  12. But Cath, you do not provide any arguments you just make assertions, unsupported by scripture, about the all-sufficiency of scripture. I do not accept your implied definition of a rite as ‘practices which could not not be observed’ I was certainly not using the word this way (I don’t know who does). You cannot use the concept of sola scriptura as a premise and a conclusion at the same time.

    All seven sacraments appear in scripture but the context is never extensively elaborated. One cannot construct a liturgy (or ‘service’ such as you have described) based on the NT. If we relied on the NT for the Eucharist we would have to perform the passover ritual and insert the words of institution. But you wouldn’t even be able to do that without relying on extra scriptural sources (and rebuilding the temple). We have nothing more than the bare words required for baptism. Acts does not tell us what ‘the prayers’ entailed.

    The Byzantine and Roman liturgies all contain essentially the same elements which we see in the heavenly liturgy of the Book of Revelation. There is clear evidence for the use by the Apostles of anointing the sick and two kinds of laying on of hands. Christ tells the Apostles ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ Christ clearly alters the character of marriage by repealing the Mosaic divorce laws. Who are you to say that contrary to the unanimous consensus of all churches of Apostolic origin these are not sacraments? Where do you get the category of sacrament from anyway?

    These churches claim the Apostolic authority to govern the liturgy and trace their liturgical traditions back to Apostolic times. You may deny their credentials but at least they claim to possess them. You don’t even claim the authority to govern the liturgy. On your own terms your worship is arbitrary and un-scriptural. Reading out a lot of scripture doesn’t make up for it.

    You have never answered any of the very serious objections to your position. Why don’t you accept foot washing as a sacrament? Why do you worship on a Sunday for that matter? You say there are ‘consistent, coherent, and scriptural responses to all the points’. I have never seen them. I have asked protestant theology professors and CU reps, I have seen live debates on these topics and read debates on them. I have never seen a single protestant who could deal with a single one of these points. On one occasion I saw a representative of Wycliffe Hall was reduced to complaining it wasn’t fair to ask him the question.

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  13. You asked who?! :shock:

    If you’re genuinely interested in the responses – well, they’re all obviously fair questions that i’m not in principle afraid of tackling, but i’m a bit cautious about whether it’s worth my time to write a response if all it’s going to do is spawn a hundred and one other questions. Anyone can list question after question with the rhetorical effect of making the stated position look hopelessly flawed – to me it seems more like some kind of courteous form of messageboard trolling than serious engagement. Not that i’m expecting you to be convinced by me or vice versa but i just don’t have the luxury of time to handle it (i’m meant to be submitting my thesis in a couple of months from now and it’s hectic (that’s privileged info (please feel free to feel privileged))) and behind ma puir wee blog there’s only me that sits in the pew of a weekend, not your full time apologetics ministry. I hope that doesn’t sound too feeble?

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  14. The length of the correspondence on this has made me reluctant to add to it further. Aelianus makes some points I’d want to make, though I’m more at the sola scriptura end of things myself. I may return to this when it cools a bit and the rate of posting can fit into my life better.

    I would say that the answer to the footwashing question, though, could/might be helpful if I can resume where I left off.

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  15. Hi Cath,

    How important do you think the theological-thematic progression through the elements of the service (call to worship…psalm…prayer…psalm…sermon etc) is?

    I think that in our tradition, we have seen ‘liturgy’ as bad and pretended we don’t have one (when in fact we do!!) This often results in a service having a helpful structure, but poorly ordered (theological) elements.

    For example, I’ve been at many, many Highland Presbyterian services where the call to worship is vague. “Let us begin our worship with…” Who am I worshipping? And why? Then the opening Psalm is randomly chosen and is not explicitly a Psalm of adoration, which again makes me unsure of who we are actually worshipping and why. Following this, the prayer is directed to God, but it is not theologically structured. It is basically a big list of requests and petitions.

    The liturgy itself has not confronted me with the gospel. It has not led me into the presence of God through the theological gateway of the gospel.

    As we have come together into the presence of God, the liturgy has not first challenged me that this God is superlatively holy – and that my first response (as the regulative principle teaches us) to him should be outright adoration, then followed by explicit contrition and repentance before him.

    If we were to decide that the theological progression of the service (in terms of specific Psalms chosen, and the theological purpose of each prayer) should be deliberately chosen to faithfully follow the Biblical pattern of worship though… Then the call to worship would be a clear call to praise the Triune God. The opening Psalm would have to be one of overt adoration or immediate confession. Then the opening prayer would have to begin with specific adoration leading to specific confession of sin.

    Again, the Biblical pattern for worship follows confession of sin with the relief of pardon – which we can find in the gospel preached in word and sacrament.

    Using the bare bones of our tradition (acapella Psalms, readings, preaching, sacraments), we have everything we need for a very edifying liturgy – where the gospel is apparent even in the order of service. It’s a shame that in many places, we Presbyterians are just not switched on in this way; and have left ‘liturgy’ to the Anglicans.

    What say ye?

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  16. Give a few things a bit of a whirl, shall I?
    You probably have reasonable answers to these ‘trial’ questions and points, but the kinds of answers are what I’m interested in finding out. So ….
    The Lord’s prayer point in the light of comments: first I would take it that it should be taken that the doubly-given shape of the prayer should inform any congregational time which is claiming a NT pattern in the way that you appear to want to do.
    Secondly and relatedly, the shape itself is probably important: there is no warrant for varying it by simply saying that during the prayers you cover the same sort of ground. (I take it that two different versions in the gospels licenses us not to be too hung up on words themselves, the shape remains constant, though).

    Now to the issue of doing what the NT says and nothing more. I have to guess to some here but on the basis of info already given and allowing for ignorance on my part. …
    I’m wracking my brains to come up with a NT ‘license’ for a call to worship…?
    Now I could be silly and point out that license is not given to worship in the medium of English, to have glass windows in a building that we may use, to use silver or pewter or ceramic for the elements used in the Lord’s Supper, pews or alternatively chairs to sit on. But maybe not so silly; I’m interested in how these slip through the net and yet instrumental music doesn’t.

    On the other side of the coin: things mentioned as being important in worship that I suspect don’t occur should be considered, again for a sense of how the intellectual structure behind this fits together. So …
    where are tongues, interpretation, prophecy, words of knowledge etc? And indeed the Lord’s Supper and, I repeat, foot washing? What reasons are given for them not to be there? Or expected? (That last question makes an assumption which could be wrong, of course).

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  17. That’s fine Cath; I prefer slightly longer spaces for reflection!
    Just one other thing, commenting on James’ at #21, part of the significance of my harping on about the Lord’s prayer pattern is the interesting liturgical implication: confession comes way down in the order not the first or second thing. Now there may be reasons to do it that latter way, but the more pressing and authoritative structure of the Lord’s prayer says not and it’s how we handle that discrepancy that is interesting.

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