“You don’t have to be good for nothing”

Today I did go to a Presbyterian church, not to be daunted by last week’s mistake. It was very little different from the Episcopalian service that I unintentionally attended last week. It was a little less formalized, with fewer distinct steps in the service and higher ratio of unique (as opposed to liturgical) content, but if you called it relaxed Episcopalian you would have it close enough.

The core message preached was my titular quote. The reverend felt that Jesus’ triumphal entry showed us that we are rewarded for our humility, that God has an “economy” of morality that will assure that we have at least a “high self-esteem” in reward for our humility and good works, if not a triumphal entry.

This is different than my understanding of the triumphal entry. The pastor did point out that the same crowds who acclaimed Jesus later shouted, “Crucify Him!”, but for this pastor that showed the fickelness of human nature. In my view, the crowds acclaimed Jesus for what they thought he would do, not for his humility; and when he failed to live up to their expectations, precisely because of and through his humility, the resultant anger came from the same expectations as the “Hosannas” had.

And notwithstanding that there must certainly have been times of joy in Jesus’ life on earth, I don’t think we can say that he was rewarded for his service until he was raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God. I think we also can only look for a fitting reward for our service, in Christ, in our participation in his new creation, although we experience his grace in so many ways even now.

Preaching karma may provide some comfort to parishoners looking for some emotional or psychological balance to the hardships experience in the week, but again I say that comfort is not the whole process of growth. While I won’t claim to have a fully developed appreciation for the benefits of liturgical services, I am sure they are inadequate as the basic method of fellowship. One custom I do think should be observed in a liturgical fashion is the Lord’s Supper. But, if I can make a weak dietary analogy, liturgies are like vitamin supplements. They may be helpful and could even be vital, but cannot replace or subsume a diet of real food.