“I make all things new.” Here is the narrative in its fullness. The world and its history belongs to God, and he has been, is now, and will be making all things new.
God chooses to restore humanity not by a decree of reconciliation, not by a sentimental forgiveness, not by a soft love, but by entering into union with humanity. In Jesus, God comes in human skin to reverse the human condition and reconcile humanity to the Father. . .
The Reformers refocused attention on two central aspects of ancient spirituality: (1) the absolute inability of humanity to choose union with God and (2) the divine initiative in which God is united to humanity through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus by the Spirit.
-Robert E. Webber, The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life
Worship tells and acts out the life, death, resurrection, and coming again of Christ through the proclamation of the Word and the Table/[Thanksgiving]. We order our service after God’s work of love and salvation. Therefore, it is an order that can be adapted to any church.
I think the simplicity of focusing on the life, death, resurrection and coming again of Jesus is a good focus for the church. Simply put, it’s a laser focus on the gospel. Remembering that, I think, helps immensely in service planning. I agree with Webber that it is an order that can be adapted for any church. However, I’ve also found that the regularity of Table is something different denominations disagree on. Connie Cherry offers the idea of a regular “Thanksgiving” at the end of the service in her book “The Worship Architect”. I’ve found this to be really helpful. Communion is the ultimate way of telling the story and thanking God for his answer to our sin, but it’s not an option for all worship pastor’s every week due to history, tradition, theological understandings, etc. Going back to Cherry’s idea, I think combining regular confession and then “Thanksgiving” helps us tell the same story. It might not have the same depth of meaning or experience, but is one way to adapt this gospel shaped order to any church. Thoughts?
Worship itself is a re-presentation of Christ. . . . Consequently, when we worship, the conflict between good and evil that we experience in our everyday lives is confronted and resolved. We leave worship once again with the personal assurance that the battle is won—Satan has been, is now being, and will be defeated. Because we are confident in Christ’s victory, we experience a great release from the burden of our sin and we become filled with joy and peace.
We don’t go to worship to celebrate what we have done. We don’t say, “Look, Lord, isn’t it wonderful that I believe in you, follow you, and serve you!” No! We go to worship to praise and thank God for what he has done, is doing, and will do. God’s work in Christ is the focus of worship.
I have come to understand that worship is a celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ . . . I now love to be at worship and to experience again and again the reality of Christ. Worship is a celebration that puts me in touch with the truth that shapes my whole life, and I have found it to be a necessary element for my own spiritual formation.
Worship challenges secularism because it establishes a relationship with God and sets the world in order. In worship, the good news is happening again. It reaffirms the reality of God, the significance of life, and the worth of the human person.