Christ at the Core of a Liturgy

February 19, 2016 by Todd Paben 0 comments

Posted in: Worship

Last Sunday Pastor Paul preached a sermon on Colossians 2:16-19 called Don't Be Afraid of ShadowsTowards the end of the sermon he emphasized that Missio Dei Church would continue to keep Christ as the core of all we do (to the best of our human nature). Later that night our missional community gathered and discussed this sermon. One of the questions that were raised was, "what does it look like for Missio Dei Church to keep Christ at the center of all she does?" The question left the group with a lot to ponder: How is Missio Dei currently living this out? How is Missio Dei currently falling short of this goal? What things would need to change and what things would need to stay? These were all great questions that got tossed around. 

So as I began to wrestle with this question from where I stand on a weekly basis: behind a microphone and guitar leading God's people to rehearse the Gospel story through liturgy. As our this church seeks to have Christ at the core in all we do I am left asking myself how well have I done at teaching the people that gather weekly with us how Christ is the core of all we do [in our liturgy]? How have I done at teaching people that the things we do on a Sunday morning are more than just call & response? How have I done at teaching these people that our form of liturgy is more than just what has taken place in corporate gatherings for hundreds of years? How have I helped people to understand the greater story of Scripture and the fullness of the Gospel through the means of liturgy? The answer to all these questions for me is simple - poorly

Rhythms-of-grace1In an effort to help Missio Dei Church understand why we do what we do on a Sunday morning, I will be doing a blog post every Friday. These blog posts will help show how Christ is at the center of the following; the call to worship, confession of sin, assurance of pardon, passing of the peace, and the benediction. There have been many conversations, books, and tools that helped shape my understanding of each of these pieces and their usefulness in liturgy. The most useful took I have found is a book from Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace: How the Chruch's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel 

So this week we will address what is a liturgy and why do we have one as a church?

[Definition of Liturgy] | the work of the people. 

No matter what church you attend, every church will have a liturgy. Some are more formal (for instance say the Roman-Catholic Church) or some may be less formal where "the work of the people" varies every week. In my opinion I think Missio Dei Church finds herself somewhere in the middle. We have some call and response times but then there are times when a pastor/leader will lead people through a particular piece of the liturgy. 

When considering the purpose of a liturgy and its practical implications on a worshipping body, I think Mike Cosper sums it up best when he says:

"Though the specific language might differ, a wide variety of traditions view gathered worship as a rehearsal of the gospel story. In this framework, worship is an invitation to step into the rhythms of grace. We remember our identity as gospel-formed people, journeying together through the story that gave us our identity and being sent out to live gospel-shaped lives. Practiced in these rhythms, we learn to think in them, much as we learn to improvise on an instrument.

So it is with the grammar of grace. We submerge ourselves in it weekly, learning not merely through passive receptivity, but in very participatory ways. We stand and sit, sing and shout, lift our hands and bow our heads. We read the Scriptures aloud together, or listen as they’re read aloud to us (which is a far different experience than reading them silently, as we’re more prone to do). We welcome one another with handshakes and hugs, we hear the Word preached and proclaimed, we taste the bread and wine, and we send one another out with a blessing. Christian worship recognizes the fact that we’re embodied creatures, engaging the whole person in the reenactment of the gospel story.

Rehearsed regularly, the gospel becomes part of our way of thinking, seeing, feeling, loving, and being in the world. It’s a weekly heartbeat, gathering us in and scattering us back out to our homes and workplaces, to children’s soccer games and board meetings, to chemotherapy sessions and evenings around the dinner table. From there, we return to the gathered church, once again rehearsing the story, remembering who God has made us, singing and celebrating that identity. Liturgy that immerses the people of God in the rhythms of grace doesn’t merely train them for gospel-centered worship; it trains them for gospel-centered lives."

Cosper, Mike (2013-03-31). Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel (Kindle Locations 1883-1887). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

I love that piece, "liturgy that immerses the people of God in the rhythms of grace doesn't merely train them for gospel-centered worship; it trains them for gospel-centered lives." I pray that this would be an ever-present reality for us a we consider what we do as we gather to worship the one who is worthy!

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