What was church like on Sunday, 500 years ago? The church itself is staggering, the soaring vaults, the smell of incense and the spectacle of the mass: Christ being re-sacrificed all over again. But you wouldn’t have had much choice as to whether or not to go. There’s images of purgatory and hell assailing you everywhere and the church is omnipresent in life. You definitely go. Can you understand any of the service? Not if you don’t speak Latin, and only the highly educated do. You go into the box and confess your sins to a priest. You have no sense of assurance and no way to address the alarming fact that you still sin. The emphasis is on doing good works to earn your salvation. God seems distant and your predicament is rightly desperate and frightening. Well might you cry, “How on this earth do I get right with God?” Reading the final section of this book on the Psalms has made me totally shocked at how spiritually needy and starved ordinary people must have felt at this time.
Last week’s blog post ended with a prayer for God to reveal how comforting, healing and rebuking His word can be. You might have read that sentence and felt a longing for the Bible to wrap you in a warm hug - but then you may have missed the word, “rebuking”!