Josiah the Liturgical Innovator
by JUSTIN D. BARNARD
Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship
July 1, 2009 - The degree to which our hyper-paced technological culture corrupts the life and ministry of the church never ceases to amaze. Consider, for example, 30MinuteWorship.com. (It does not appear to be a spoof.) The service apparently offers a “high energy, focused package [that] will creatively engage you to personally connect with God.” One assumes that “connecting” with God must involve the use of Twitter during the 5 minutes allocated at the end of the service for “Response.” (Does God answer tweets?)
In the midst of his marvelous reformation of Judah, King Josiah rediscovered the “Book of the Law” (Torah). His response is an utter indictment of our penchant for convenience.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:11-13)
Josiah recognized that Judah’s sins were the direct result of willful ignorance. The Book of the Law had been lost – quite literally. But even before its physical mislocation in the temple, it was forgotten by the people.
What fuels such amnesia are omnivorous selfish desires. When they are given free reign, they consume our lives – ultimately crowding out the One Who is our life.
Josiah’s corrective for Judah’s having forgotten is astounding. “And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Kings 23:2)
“ . . . he read in their hearing ALL the words of the Book of the Covenant . . .” It probably took more than 30 minutes.