The worship demanded by the gods of this age

Our rigid ideologies may be couched in “sacred” terms at times, but we need to understand the liturgy of our culture.

From the “right” to the “left” we are in liturgies to the different gods of our age. The demands are stringent. But to the “right” or the “left”, what is being sacrificed is the same thing: it is our children. 

We will keep singing our righteous songs as to why OUR rigid ideologies are “right” and the other side is “wrong.” The gods of this age don’t care. The worship keeps coming and the next generation keeps getting sacrificed.

Lord, we are blind. Somehow, please open our eyes!

The church is into mass production rather than fine art

I am working my way again through Simon Chan’s marvelous book, Liturgical Theology. As a Pentecostal scholar who calls us back into the deep “traditions” of the Church, I have found this book to be a refreshing read over the years. Chan doesn’t pull punches.

He wants us to return to Cyprian’s goal of saying one who doesn’t have the Church as their Mother cannot call God their Father. Bold stuff for a Pentecostal.

The current “thought of the day” out of this book is his reminder of “mission.” We have been preoccupied with numbers, so we forget our mission. We think our mission is soul-winning. It is not. We are the Body of Christ demonstrating the power of the Kingdom in this world. It is far beyond counting noses at an altar call.

Worship should mark us as different. Worship should look different. It’s not about the entertainment factor. We are called to worship in spirit and in truth.

Mission does not seek to turn sinners into saved individuals; it seeks, rather, to turn disparate individuals into a worshiping community. The preoccupation of the modern church with numbers often misses the real goal of mission. Instead of turning out find works of art, the modern church tends to model its mission on the mass-production factory. The church becomes an efficiently run factory. We then market the megachurch as the model of a successful church. Is it any wonder that grandiose strategies of winning the world for Christ have produced a bloated church whose ways and values are not very different from those of the world? The ministry becomes departmentalized… mission is left to church-growth specialists, counseling is done by professionally trained counselors, and the pastor serves as CEO. (p. 45)

Let us worship. Let us produce pieces of fine art in this world… and leave the mass production to the cheap tricks of this world!

Holy Trinity Sunday

We are on a short vacation in Pensacola, FL with some great friends and our oldest son and daughter-in-law. When away from my church I love other church traditions. What a joy to be at a very old Episcopal Church on Holy Trinity Sunday. The liturgy was beautiful and the surroundings were gorgeous.

The focus on the doctrine of the Trinity was front and center. The readings, songs, prayers, all centered us on the core doctrine of Trinity. It was a profound worship service, and a great reminder in those surroundings that worship isn’t about ME. It is about our great God!

The preaching of the Word

The priority needs to be given to the public reading of Scripture. We need to systematically read the Scripture in public. The story needs to be impressed into our collective memories.

“If the sermon follows some form of lectio divina (in which the whole of Scripture is read over a period of time), we are more likely to avoid the habit of reading from a few favorite books (usually the Epistles) and preaching from our favorite texts… What we call the ‘exposition of the Scriptures’ should be the clarification of the Story so we can listen to it more attentively and relate to the events more fully.” — Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology

 

The Devil Has All the Good Liturgies

I really enjoyed James Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom, so I look forward to this new book, Imagining the Kingdom. 
He has an interview in Christianity Today and he brings up the whole idea of allegiances again. Everything in life is liturgy, according to Smith. It’s about our loyalties.
His claim is we are defined by what we worship rather than what we think, know, or believe. It comes from the Augustinian thought, “We are what we love.”
The interviewer asks a question starting with, “Secular rituals shape us just as much as sacred ones. You say that ‘the Devil has all the best liturgies.'”
Smith’s reply is that rituals and practices that form our lives spill out well beyond the sanctuary. Many secular liturgies try to get us to love some other kingdom and some other goals.
Smith has been instrumental in shaping my thinking all along about the KING and his KINGDOM. I look forward to his new book.