For those of us who grow up with the story of three young men cast into a furnace for their convictions, it’s easy to remember that story without thinking much on it. But for that very reason we should revisit the stories that shaped our understanding of our faith in child hood. This one in particular shows that the practices of our faith are not empty rituals, but the very lifeblood of our identity.
Iconoclastic movements towards the writ and ritual of the church have gone forward in the name of being evangelical. While these are by no means the same as a Babylonian king ordering the worship of an idol, they have attacked the practices of our faith such as reading prayers and submission to a larger authority.
All in all it’s a type of protest against ritual that doesn’t connect to the divine, a noble cause that instead of reshaping ritual formed a whole new set of rituals – all of which can be just as empty as the rituals they left behind. You can’t give up the old order of worship without creating a new one, and now groups of this protest are using the old liturgies to figure out what they want to do with the new ones.
Pretty cool if you ask me, because it means that people are seeking to find new and old ways that help them encounter God.
And when it comes to practices that shape us, refusing to bow down to anyone than God and insisting on praying to our own God – those are pretty high up the list. Daniel it is said prayed three times a day facing towards Jerusalem, we can assume that Shaderach, Meshach, and Abednego did something similar.
What ever it was, they’re success in their captivity inspired jealousy in their rivals, and the result was getting tossed in the furnace – a task that kills the soldiers assigned to it, but what they say before hand is the crux of the whole story: “God can save us, God might not save us, but God is still God.”
That’s my translation, but I don’t know hebrew so more accurately it’s my interpretation.
What the statement does is directly assert trust in God, but more than that, it’s an acceptance of life and death that derive meaning from a relationship with God and friendship with each other.
Makes me want to pray in old and new styles with companions that I trust and God as one of them.