Good art “speaks to me. It makes me listen. It forms me.” . . . Somehow the art in worship surrounds me and gathers me up into itself. Like music, it enters into my soul and abides there. During the week it becomes a dominant image in my experience and pulls me to dwell on the theme and allows the theme to dwell in me. In this way, it forms me and energizes my spiritual pilgrimage.
The function of art in worship is similar to the role of the clean house, the beautifully decorated dining room, and the lovingly prepared meal in a birthday celebration. It embodies the occasion in such a way that the event is served. Just as the house, the table, and the food [turns a] birthday into a special occasion, so art forms turn worship into a special event, serving it, assisting it, creating it.
Worship . . . is meant to celebrate the coming of Christ (Advent); the birth of Christ (Christmas); the manifestation of Christ as the light of the whole world (Epiphany); the impending death of Christ (Lent); the events of his last week (Holy Week); the resurrection (Easter); and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). These are the kairos events for Christians that give meaning and significance to our day-to-day lives in the world.
Pentecost Sunday ends the extraordinary season that began on the first Sunday of Advent. In approximately six months the church has been carried through all the saving events of God—his incarnation, manifestation to the world, life, death, resurrection, and ascension as well as the coming of the Holy Spirit. All these crucial events form faith and the spiritual life. . .
Bread and wine, these elements of creation, become the symbols of re-creation. For his body broken for us and his blood spilt for us are the signs of renewal and restoration.
In the ancient church pastoral prayer was nonexistent. Prayer belonged to the people and arose out of the congregation.
Thinking through this as we include more time of open prayer at our church. We read scripture and then pray through it, trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide our hearts and minds. What do you think…thoughts?
I sensed this was the week that above all weeks was to be set aside for the journey into death. I knew the worship of the church would take me by the hand and lead me step-by-step into the experience of death and rebirth, if I would allow it to do so. I resolved then and there to walk in the way of the cross. I purposed to make this the week God intended it to be for me, a week of intense spiritual struggle—and reward!
-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year
The purpose of the meeting between God and the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai was clearly to establish relationship with them (see Exod. 24:1-8). . . . Christian worship is like Hebrew worship. In worship, God renews his covenant with us. In worship, our relationship to God is deepened and strengthened when the order itself represents God’s speaking to us and God’s saving us through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.
Worship is a meeting between God and his people. Like all other meetings between two people, a certain amount of form is necessary. . . . God has already established the structural ingredients needed in a meeting with him, and we cannot improve on these forms. We simply need to understand what they are and practice them in faith, believing that we really are meeting God in…Preparation [Gathering], Word, Table [Communion], and Dismissal [Sending].