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Showing posts from September, 2017

Changing Tradition

Exodus 30.1-10, 22-33, Hebrews 9.1-12 The rituals surrounding incense may seem irrelevant to Methodist worship in the Twenty-first Century, and yet they raise intriguing questions which are still relevant to us. When I was a minister in the inner city, twenty years ago now, there was some discussion about joining our congregation with the equally small and struggling Anglican congregation next-door. But there was an insurmountable problem. For many years, until the man who mixed the incense left the church, they were in the habit of using incense during their services. At intervals they would waft great clouds of it over the congregation, the lectern and the altar. ‘If we worship there the incense will get on my chest,’ one church steward declared. The fact that she was a heavy smoker probably got on her chest too, but seemed to be of less concern. She would have sympathised with the more traditionally minded worshippers of ancient Israel, who had their own concerns about incense. Origi…