Getting Ready for Sunday | 06/21/2020
Earlier this year, announcing a gathering was very normal, humdrum, and boring. Now it's quite exciting to announce and prepare for worship in real time and three dimensions! Yet the importance of Christians gathering together as Church remains constant, be our subjective experience either exiting or dull.
I shared these words from Singaporean theologian Simon Chan back in September. "What marks Christians as God's people is that they have become a community that worships God in spirit and in truth. This is what the church must aim at in mission. Mission does not seek to turn sinners into saved individuals; it seeks, rather, to turn disparate individuals into a worshipping community" (Liturgical Theology).
This mission of turning "disparate individuals into a worship community" presupposes relationships. Christian mission presupposes specific set of relationships, a relationship with God and relationships with neighbors. Jesus makes this very clear in the Great Commandment, which we hear every time we gather. The liturgy brings this to our common attention. "Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (2019 BCP, p. 124).
Jesus' words are expressions of—and invitations into—the ways and means of his mission. Disciples trust his words as we practice his ways and means. Eugene Peterson wrote about the ways and means of Jesus in his book, The Jesus Way. Just after Peterson's death, Renovaré published an excerpt from that book from which these paragraphs are taken. They emphasize the connection between the gathered community of worship and ways (and means) Christians take Jesus' way into daily living.
The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus, living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family. The local congregation is the primary place for dealing with the particulars and people we live with. As created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it is insistently local and personal. . . . Jesus’ metaphor, kingdom of God, defines the world in which we live. We live in a world where Christ is king. If Christ is king, every thing, quite literally, every thing and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-oriented to a way of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus. A total renovation of our imagination, our way of looking at things — what Jesus commanded in his no-nonsense imperative, “Repent!” — is required. We can — we must! — take responsibility for the way we live and work in our homes and neighborhoods, workplaces and public squares. We can refuse to permit the culture to dictate the way we go about our lives.
Gathering to worship God in spirit and in truth as a local congregation is the foundational practice that supports and sustains our repentance, the "renovation of . . . our way of looking at things." It is a practice and renovation into a way that is consistent with an "obedient following of Jesus." And this trusting practice leads us to love God and our neighbors as we seek, by God's grace, "to turn disparate individuals into a worshipping community."
See you Sunday!
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)