It seems to me that the readings this morning are pretty direct, aren't they? Isaiah makes it clear that if we pretend to worship God, no matter how beautiful our Liturgy may be, but forget about God as soon as we leave the parking lot, we might as well not worship at all. Isaiah came to prophesy that God does not want a proliferation of heartless worship or empty pomp and circumstance. No, God wants our hearts. Toward that end, we must reform our lives, clean our hands and our hearts, free ourselves from the false idols of our lives, and turn wholeheartedly and abandon ourselves to God. We must worship not just here in this Church, but in every moment of our lives.
Jesus is pretty direct too, isn't he? We might want simple words of peace – I know I could have used some today – but that isn't what he wants to offer. He wants to upset the apple carts of our lives, to afflict us in our comfort. He isn't asking us to abandon our families, but he is asking us to put discipleship on the front burner. His message is that every action of our lives must be directed toward taking up our crosses and following him. That might mean a simple glass of water offered to someone doing the Lord's work. Or it might mean answering a call we have received to be involved in a certain ministry. But whatever it means, there is nothing more important, and that call must be answered now.
But all of this comes with a promise. Whoever abandons themselves to wonderful pure worship in every moment, a worship that puts discipleship first and takes up his or her cross, that one will surely be rewarded.