Friday, September 22, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Worship...

Interesting that 'liturgy' is related to Leitourgia which is work or to act in a way that benefits the public at large Bosch asks "can we hope for such renewal of our celebration that it returns to this authentic liturgy?"

I must have got to that sad stage in my blogging life where I do repeats, or it could do something with my age! But this modern day parable does the trick for me everytime I read it.
One day after dinner, while finishing dessert, a father sent his boy out to cut the lawn. Smiling broadly, the son said, "No, Father, I just want to stay here experiencing your presence, expressing my love for you, my dear Father." The father frowned and said, more firmly this time, "Actually, Son, I would rather you go out and cut the lawn." But the boy acted as if he didn't even hear his father, and he replied, "Dad! Guess what? I just wrote a song expressing my love for you!" The son began to sing, his eyes closed in sincerity and intense emotion, and the father left the table to go watch TV. The boy didn't notice, but kept singing, with tears streaming down his face.

At that point the father wanted the boy to experience obedience (which may entail heat, sweat, thirst, sunburn, strained muscles, hunger, endurance, and fatigue) even more than the warmth of his presence.

(A is for Abductive Sweet, McClaren)

When did we accept worship that is solely about what we sing, even songs that implore us to seek the faded music leads us down that lane that is emotive singing. If "worship is the 'raison d'entre' and primary objective of the Christ Community" how is it possible that we have lost that sense of worship that reflects "the moment-by-moment acknowledgement of obedient and loving service" the worship that God values.

Bosch points out that "Celebration divorced from caring and pursuit of justice is welcomed by the demonic and rejected by God. I cannot delight in your sacred ceremonies! Spare me the sound of your song! But let justice roll on like a river'' (Amos 5.24). A gift brought to God is welcomed only if the giver is first in shalom with others (Matt. 5.24)."

Interesting that "celebration is acceptable to God only when the Christian community is involved in demonstrating and proclaiming His reign with signs of shalom"

So when the music fades and we simply come, when all is stripped away what is left? "the avant garde of the new creation?"; the "experience of shalom we are called to manifest and promote?"; an explicit representation of the Kingdom, His reign? Or the next lovely sequence of chords.

As long as that is all that is left worship remains a lost theme of mission.

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Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...

Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

Lost Themes of Mission - Compassion...

8 comments:

Wendy said...

I could find an equal number of Bible quotes and eminent scholars (except it is 3.52 a.m. and, despite being the insomniac that I am, my brain isn't quite up to speed!) that call us to come into the presence of God and worship him. For some that is through music,for others liturgy and still others a beautiful view. Without the outward expression of mission, worship can become idolatrous worship of worship itself (does that make sense?). What I'm trying to say is that, although I endorse your comments to a point, it is dangerous to devalue the place of worship in the disciple's life completely. How does John 12:1-8 sit in all this?

Stephen said...

...Or Luke 10:38-42? Sometimes we have to stop doing and settle for being. We all know of burned out ministers who became so busy feeding others that they forgot to feed themselves. There needs to be balance - otherwise at its extreme is this not the path to salvation by works?

Gordon said...

or amos 5:23-24 ;o)

Heh I'm not bashing worship*, I'm just saying when did worship just become what we sing - isn't it eversomuch more -living sacrifices and all that.

Both your examples (nice to see you blogging steve) didn't finish with a 'time of worship' - shouldn't every living breath every action be worship?

Steve you are right our 'doing' only makes sense through our 'being' - if we get our sense of being through what we sing we're sunk. I'm not saying I don't like sung worship, I am saying worship has to be more profound than a hour on a sunday.Hence the parable!

thoughts?

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*I was even seen to be playing my guitar and leading worship in sunday's spiritual day!!!!

Stephen said...

If "every living breath and action should be worship" (and I agree) then what does it mean to "lead worship" and does that also only last for an hour or so on Sunday...? Are you leading worship when you are serving carrots at the luncheon club, as well as playing your guitar? Can you even serve carrots with a guitar...?

Like so much of this stuff maybe it all boils down to the inadequacies of language, but I guess what provoked my response in the first place was Bosch's take on Amos in your original. I've no doubt that God cares about injustice in all its forms, but Amos was condemning Israel for covenantal unfaithfulness and for institutionalised religion that lacked authenticity. Covenantal obligations extended to caring for the marginalised and dispossessed but the key point for me is that Covenant is the starting point - the relationship between God and His people that He graciously enters into. I don't think that has changed - the starting point is the individual's own relationship with God that then finds a missional expression. Your Bosch snippet seemed to imply that we earn the former through the latter. I accept that wasn't your intention but the theological implications left me rather uncomfortable.

Roz said...

I think I see what ur saying Gordon...that's what u guys did here in Poplar...it wasn't just on Sunday...it was in everything you said and did...'in every living breath and action'.

The theological implications are lost on me...but the implications for the community are not. If what you say and do, from your interactions with the luncheon club to the youth club to the parent & toddler group to international nights, is an expression of your beliefs then people benefit and learn from such behaviour what a 'Christian' is...there is no decoding to be done...no room for misunderatanding of messages...it is in a language that is understood by everyone...positive reinforcement.

I'm not sure i undertand the chicken and egg philosophy - which comes first a 'relationship with God' or its 'expression'...isn't an egg a chicken? I thought that in the Salvation Army this was how it worked...

Kevin on Sunday mentioned the message Booth sent to a conference once in his stead...it was simple and to the point...and I thought made sense of what I have experienced from people like you Gordon in the Salvation Army. The message was - Others.

Gordon said...

So Stephen are you saying that serving carrots is not worship or therefore spiritual? That it wouldn't be a pleasing thing to God to see his church acting in compassion to the marginalised, creating community, showing true love, hope, grace? :o).I think it was the point in the original quote from McLaren. Having said that I am sure there would be a creative way of slicing carrots while playing the guitar!!

The more ominous point if we went further down that line is that the dangers of dualism are never far away - NT Wright/ Leech talk about neo Gnosticism in our theology and its dangers. I'm doing some digging around on that.

Roz you should've been a theologian - the chicken and the egg thing is well worth fleshing out.

Thanks everyone - much more to mull over!

Helen said...

I've been doing some thinking recently, prompted by Steve Croft, on the relationship between the rhythm and the road in our lives. Anglican friends place a great emphasis on the daily, weekly and annual rhythm of their intentional contact with God through the daily office and the Christian Year. It's an emphasis I find attractive and one which generates reflection on how I incorporate God into every minute. But there is also a road, a direction, a history and the Christian life is 'mere religion' if it soothes the cycles of life. Mission is the road but for me it needs rhythm to sustain it and some of that rhythm comes from worship both individual and corporate. If I was trying to identify a distinctive spirituality for Salvationists it would be that often we discover our rhythm on the road (perhaps like marching soldiers?). It is the encounter and the action that releases our recognition of Christ's presence and returns us to prayer. A key purpose of worship for me is to prepare me for those moments of recognition. But that preparation can also come through study and reading.
BTW Gordon when are you going to change your 'about me' - I'm looking forward to seeing how you describe the relationship between your past and present roles.

Gordon said...

Thanks Helen - helpful thoughts.

The 'about me' is being processed - watch this space!!!