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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Fear of Man Takes a Knee

Kneeling is back in the news. I talked about it during a confession exhortation a few years ago when a NFL quarterback was taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem in order to protest his concern of targeted violence against black people by the police, and the narrative identifies white police as the particular offenders.

Kneeling is back in the news in a couple ways at least. Another quarterback, who is white, was asked what he thought about his black teammates kneeling during the Anthem, he said he didn’t think that showed proper respect for those who’ve fought to give us freedom in our country, and some of his teammates, along with players on other teams and many in the sports media, piled this quarterback into social shame. Within 24 hours the white quarterback confessed his ignorance and his sorrow that he had hurt his teammates feelings.

Many of the protests over the last couple weeks, and I’m thinking of the peaceful moments, have included kneeling of black and white people in a supposed show of solidarity.

But in some places, the kneeling has turned into a show of craven servility. I’ve seen numerous video clips of white men and women kneeling down, not just with, but before black people, in order to “confess” their white privilege and show their remorse.

“The fear of man takes a knee, but whoever trusts the LORD is safe” (modified Proverbs 29:25).

Beloved, you need to know who to and when to kneel. Kneeling (or not) can be a powerful statement. But there is no sin of being red, brown, yellow, black, or white. There is no sin that your parents or your grandparents are a particular color. But there is sin. And there is a reason to bow before our Creator, our God, our Lord.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
(Psalm 95:6 ESV)

When we confess our sin as a church, we invite believers to kneel. Don’t fear men, fear the Lord.

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10 ESV).

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Calvinist Knees

How does a Calvinist confess his sins? That’s not the start of a joke.

We are a Calvinistic church, meaning that we believe that God is God, God rules over all, and that includes His sovereignty in the salvation of men. We believe that He elects spiritually dead men to be brought to Him as worshippers for eternity. He has their names already written in a book. They are a love gift from the Father to the Son as a Bride.

Whether you like the nickname or not, it’s convenient theological shorthand. The least you could do is hope to be a Calvinist that isn’t weird.

So how does a Calvinist confess his sins? Some don’t. They confess that total depravity is a true doctrine, but they reason that God saves His chosen ones regardless of any specific repentance, so individual confession doesn’t matter. I’d call this a form of hyper-Calvinism, and more than that, I’d call it wrong.

There are some other Calvinists who don’t confess their sins because the truths of the doctrines of grace have caused them to see everyone else’s errors but their own. A certain kind of knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1). I’d call this hypocritical-Calvinism, and it is worse than wrong.

Those who realize that they were corrupt and contemptible to God, rebels without a cause, dead in sin apart from God’s free choice and God’s perfect blood and God’s initiated heart-transplant, should not be proud. A Calvinist should confess his sins in humility. A Calvinist should confess his sins on his knees. We could call him a Calvikneest.

As part of our liturgy we’ve been inviting those who are able and willing to kneel in humble confession for many years. It’s not a convenient position for many, and a physical impossibility for a few. But for those who are able, wouldn’t it be a great testimony if others knew we were Calvinists by our knees?

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Kneeling on Sundays

Of all things, kneeling on Sundays is in the news these days. Interesting, isn’t it? Our society still finds a story in symbols and liturgy. This does not mean that the ones kneeling or the ones standing or the ones talking about it on TV understand the story, but they all know that bodily posture matters. It has for a long time.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
(Psalm 95:6)

To be sure, it is possible to assume a position, to do it without much thinking, or even to do it as a lie, thinking the opposite of the communicated posture. It is also possible for position to be a discipline; the heart is not feeling it but putting the body in place reminds the heart of its proper pace. There are also those who are physically incapable of getting into or maintain some position (standing or kneeling).

But none of those change the created reality that certain positions communicate and are expected to communicate.

In our local church’s Sunday morning liturgy we stand to hear the word of God read. We honor God’s gracious revelation in a position of attention. We also get on our knees in humility for our confession of sin. We honor God’s gracious redemption in a kneeling position.

The cross of Christ does not allow us to keep our pride, or to parade our self-righteousness, or to validate our impressiveness. The cross humbles all who come to it, and there is even liturgical opportunity for others to watch us honor God as we kneel before Him.