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].
It seems to me that congregational [participation] cannot occur without two very basic ingredients: the congregation must understand what they are doing, and they must intend to make the responses that are part of worship. Worship is a verb.
Since God is speaking and acting in worship, response to God who speaks and acts is of great importance.
In my response, I am once again saying yes to God. As with the initial response when I first heard the word of God’s love and grace, I again respond to him in faith and love. . . . I respond to God in worship because he makes a difference in my life. . . . My response to God . . . determines my priorities in life. It puts me at peace with God, my neighbor, and my own life.
Worship is not for the purpose of remembering the Reformation, hailing the founding of America, saluting mothers, boy scouts, girl scouts, or grandparents. Worship does not celebrate Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Labor Day.
Worship remembers the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . . All that goes into an actual service of worship must pertain to the event of God revealing himself to us, becoming incarnate in our history, and redeeming us from the power of the evil one, setting us free to enjoy him forever.