Sunday, March 9, 2008

Worship?

Liturgical or digitized? Ancient or future? Cutting edge or 'old faithful'? Mainly individual or expressly communal? A function that determines its own form, or a given form that functions in particular ways?

I've put the post title and its first line in question form, as a way of getting after what our current questions might be about worship: what is worship? Why is it important, and how is it important? What does it mean to be a "21st-century worshipper" or a "21st-century worshipping community" and how is that different from previous centuries? And of course the "or" in the first group of questions is a red herring, but perhaps a provocative one...

88 comments:

josenmiami said...

since I was the last commenter on the previous thread, I might as well be a hawg and be the first on this thread.

I personally have come to treasure the idea of worship as a daily lifestyle of love, obedience and surrender to God. I think of Jesus’ affirmation of the greatest law as “love God with all your mind-heart-soul and strength,” Paul’s encouragement to make our bodies a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service of worship.”

In terms of corporate worship, I am a little more ambiguous. I know what it is not – it is not a Christian rock concert and it is not a scripted multi-media presentation, although both of those things may have some value to complement our worship occasionally. I like the symbolism of sharing the bread and wine, especially when there is a clear understanding of our mutual commitment to one another and a corresponding commitment to walk it out in our lives practically.

boy with a ball said...

I think that this is a big deal for us as we start to allow things to melt a bit in terms of what church is. I think that in the process of pushing past externals such as a hymn book, a church building and even an order of service we can also push past Jesus.

On one hand, we can truly say that the heart of every man cries out for God. There is a spiritual heartcry that goes on 24/7. However, worship has less to do with that resonance of the Creator in our hearts as His creation as it has to do with our response to Him in "spirit and truth." In other words, it is great to acknowledge that we all yearn for Him but I think that Joseph's statement of worship "as a daily lifestyle of love, obedience and surrender to God" is a big one and I would only add on "through the person of Jesus Christ."

I grew up around Mormons and Unitarian Universalists, around American Indians and around New Age "seekers" and I can tell you this...they were alot of things...worshipers of "the pursuit of truth," worshipers of "worship" even...but they did not worship God. They filled the hole with other things. They chose alot but they never believed and responded with their whole hearts to who He is.

Our modern worship experience is more Hindu than Christian...pursuing a nirvana experience of "His presence" and rejecting sour notes or suffering.

I think you can judge a church's worship by their level of interaction with the lost. How else can those who are worshiping Him in Spirit not follow that Spirit out into the living "as Jesus did."

Maybe I am wrong....maybe the next Hillsong album will really push us over the edge and accomplish the great commission.

William said...

Jamie, The parallel that you drew of a today's Christian worship and Hindu's nirvana experience is good. I have heard you say something like that before and it is helping me walk in in the Truth. Can you further explain this statement, I dont fully understand it:

I think that in the process of pushing past externals such as a hymn book, a church building and even an order of service we can also push past Jesus.

Thanks. Also, I think that Hebrews 11 is a great passage on worship. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed...

boy with a ball said...

William,

That statement is just to say that while some things can be left behind as we journey through time and into culture whether it is ethnic or generational, we have to be careful that Jesus becomes more central rather than one of the pieces we discard.

I appreciated your comments on Hebrews 11.

Jamie

josenmiami said...

that reminds me of a discussion we had early last fall -- Alan Hirsch says that in every reformation or renewal movement in the church, the first order of business is always a fresh or renewed Christology.

Brian Emmet said...

Great conversation points!

Is the bread and cup symbolic... or sacremental? How do we understand these terms, and how might they be helpful to this discussion?

While worship must take many forms--it must clothe itself in/with the culture--it must also be a faithful response to God's revelation. Are there any "required elements," or facets, or aspects to true worship, or is everything up for grabs?

And while "all of life is to be an expression of worship," is there something distinctive, or necessary, about corporate worship that strengthens us to not "forsake the assembling of yourselves together"? "All of life" easily becomes "life on my terms!"

Finally, what might be the dimesnions of a new/renewed, or fresh/refreshed, Christology for this new age?

boy with a ball said...

Can we be Evangelicals again...with an eye more on what has drifted in since the Evangelists chronicled their life with Jesus rather than trying to innovate? Acculturate yes but innovating on what Jesus did is a bit like inviting Michael Jordan to your third grade basketball clinic.
I love Jesus capacity to individually disciple them while they never left the group. It is always both.
I think there seems to be a constant distillation down from ritual to relationship while fear of the Lord ramps up. Interesting paradox! It becomes more majestic and full of honor while becoming more intimate.
Some elements of what Jesus was saying and what He did and is doing now seem to be being progressively revealed. What He meant by church...the depths of forgiveness...justification by faith on a level that allows for true intimacy...I see these things in writers and a few groups over church history but it seems like they are being offered somehow in the melt down of systems and externals both in a purer form and in a heretical form at the same time.

Randy R. said...

Here I go, again, trying to mess with our thinking! Brian stated the following: "While worship must take many forms--it must clothe itself in/with the culture--it must also be a faithful response to God's revelation. Are there any "required elements," or facets, or aspects to true worship, or is everything up for grabs?

How do we reconcile the fact that for the first 1000 years (until 1054) there was one church, whose worship was essentially the same. May I also remind us that this "style of worship" was developed by the children and grandchildren of the church's first generation of leaders . . . Paul, Peter, and the rest of those apostolic guys.

In 1054 the church split East and West; however, the style of worship was not greatly different. 1517 marked the Reformation and suddenly for the past 500 years, we have a remarkable spectrum of worship choices and experiences.

Yet, for roughly 1 Billion Christians around the world, who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, their worship has been essentially the same since 1054 and for the Orthodox Church (which is the largest group world-wide outstide Roman Catholicisim), their worship is essentially unchanged since around 100 AD!!!!

Mmmmmmm. . . culturally relevant? Different modes or models? Let the games begin!

Randy R. said...

Here I go, again, trying to mess with our thinking! Brian stated the following: "While worship must take many forms--it must clothe itself in/with the culture--it must also be a faithful response to God's revelation. Are there any "required elements," or facets, or aspects to true worship, or is everything up for grabs?

How do we reconcile the fact that for the first 1000 years (until 1054) there was one church, whose worship was essentially the same. May I also remind us that this "style of worship" was developed by the children and grandchildren of the church's first generation of leaders . . . Paul, Peter, and the rest of those apostolic guys.

In 1054 the church split East and West; however, the style of worship was not greatly different. 1517 marked the Reformation and suddenly for the past 500 years, we have a remarkable spectrum of worship choices and experiences.

Yet, for roughly 1 Billion Christians around the world, who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, their worship has been essentially the same since 1054 and for the Orthodox Church (which is the largest group world-wide outstide Roman Catholicisim), their worship is essentially unchanged since around 100 AD!!!!

Mmmmmmm. . . culturally relevant? Different modes or models? Let the games begin!

Randy R. said...

Here I go, again, trying to mess with our thinking! Brian stated the following: "While worship must take many forms--it must clothe itself in/with the culture--it must also be a faithful response to God's revelation. Are there any "required elements," or facets, or aspects to true worship, or is everything up for grabs?

How do we reconcile the fact that for the first 1000 years (until 1054) there was one church, whose worship was essentially the same. May I also remind us that this "style of worship" was developed by the children and grandchildren of the church's first generation of leaders . . . Paul, Peter, and the rest of those apostolic guys.

In 1054 the church split East and West; however, the style of worship was not greatly different. 1517 marked the Reformation and suddenly for the past 500 years, we have a remarkable spectrum of worship choices and experiences.

Yet, for roughly 1 Billion Christians around the world, who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, their worship has been essentially the same since 1054 and for the Orthodox Church (which is the largest group world-wide outstide Roman Catholicisim), their worship is essentially unchanged since around 100 AD!!!!

Mmmmmmm. . . culturally relevant? Different modes or models? Let the games begin!

Brian Emmet said...

Golly, when Randy wants to emphatically make his point, he repeats it three times... sounds almost Biblical!

So Randy: why don't you practice the Divine Liturgy (which I believe dates from the 4th/5th cent)--the Orthodox do believe that this is THE way that God has instructed his people to worship. It's a sincere question: why?

It's an important apsect of this conversation: we all of us tend to take a pretty laissez faire approach to the unity of the Body of Christ, and the unity (whatever that may mean) of its worship, having concluded that it's all pretty much dead ritual and Spirit-devoid (at least "for us.")

OK, all you simple-churchers and new paradigm guys: stand up for yourselves! (This is said with a friendly smile.)

josenmiami said...

Jamie… I didn’t understand your comment. I read it twice, and I got that Jesus is good, innovation is bad, but beyond that, what are you saying, and how does it relate to worshp?

Randy, good comments. I am not challenging you, but I really don’t think that it can be asserted as a ‘fact’ of history that there was only one church until 1054. The Baptists (or Anabaptists) have a whole historical narrative that views there being an ‘official’ church and a ‘baptist’ or underground church from the time of Constantine. There was also the Syrian church, the Nestorian church, the Coptic church and the Abyssinian church. The only one who believed that there was one unified church, united under the Bishop of Rome was …you guessed it! The Bishop of Rome. Also, I would disagree that Eastern Orthodox worship reflects 100 A.D. practices… you might be able to make a case that Eastern Orthodoxy reflects worship as it existed in the east at the earliest from the 4th or 5th centuries.

Before we bash the Protestant Reformation too much, many modern scholars attribute the development of Western society, including science, technology, human rights and democracy, if not entirely to the Protestant Reformation, at least to a set of conditions that the Protestant Reformation helped re-enforce. The movies “Luther” and “Elizabeth, the Golden Age,” give a feel for what it may have been like to have lived during the Reformation and the issues that it generated. I, for one, am proud to be a Protestant (damn proud actually) and have no desire to go back to the obscurantism, intolerance and superstition that the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church have traditionally clung to. As Robert has pointed out, they both claim to be the only true church. I say this as a student Catholicism and an admirer of many aspects of Catholicism and a HUGE fan of Pope John XXIII; a "true" Christian if there ever was one.

steve H said...

Just in case you didn't know it and it makes any difference, the Eastern Orthodox claim to be the one true church in an historical sense rather than in a theological sense -- although some EO individuals may say the former.

The core pattern of worship can be traced back earlier than the 4th or 5th century -- in fact, the "liturgy of the word" developed from the Jewish synagogue and the "liturgy of the eucharist" developed from the Jewish passover and Sabbath.

Although I have not been enough of a leader to get a bunch of non-denominational Protestants to buy into it in our local church, the 1st day assembly, I believe, should center in the "breaking of bread" -- the Eucharist or thanksgiving.

The pattern of worship from earliest times centered on reading Scripture with comment and on prayers, all leading up to the Eucharist. There was also singing but I cannot find any evidence that it was a primary emphasis in worship.

The sense in which the Eucharist is symbolic is a bit complicated since there is a significant difference in whether one defines symbol as "that which stands for or points to something else" versus defining symbol as "an act in which two realities meet -- or that which manifests another reality."

However, rather than squabble about definitions, I would say that the regular action of renewing covenant and of offering up ourselves is important. We not only participate in some way in the sacrifice of Jesus in a historical sense, but we also keep offering up ourselves to be broken bread and poured out wine as a sacrificial offering along with Jesus for the sake of others.

To worship is ultimately to surrender in obedience to the One whom we recognize as our sovereign king and redeemer.

Brian Emmet said...

So do we feel that the Creeds--Apostles' and Nicene--arenice options or accessories to worship, rather than a core expression of it?

Brian Emmet said...

Oops...that last comment of mine kinda shut things down...? Feel free to ignore it...

josenmiami said...

wonderful accessories. For me, "Love the Lord your God, and "love your neigbhor" are the core.

steve H said...

I deeply appreciate the creeds and especially use the Nicene creed. I suggest that we speak the creeds not only as declarations of faith toward God but also as declarations of truth in the face of principalities and powers -- as if in full armor we declare the ground on which we stand... "Here we stand"!

boy with a ball said...

Sorry Joseph,

Sorry to be unclear.

My statements were after reading Brian's about a clearer Christology.

My point would be that following Him seems to be always about what it was about for those 12 guys and the crowd 2,000 years ago. I like the Protestant focus on the Evangelist's accounts of Jesus' ministry. I think that should always be the question. Who is He in Scripture as a foundation for following Him in our current age.

As we follow Him as a community down here, we do realize things have changed. Somethings are easier...we have media that helps us stay in better touch...while somethings are harder...we have media that is tremendously distracting to many who we are reaching and even some we are walking with. We embrace the technological advances that help us follow Him and serve Him...websites, blogs, email, international phone lines, movies that help illustrate points or which are fun to watch together as a team...and we simply continue to follow Him and to go and make disciples.

So technology helps and hurts and we try to surf it in a way that helps more than it hurts.

As far as what this has to do with worship, I can only say that worship for me got untracked in some ways with the help of our own movement as it became about a song and a dance more than about a life that erupted in corporate adoration both in song and in community, in reaching out and reaching up.

I think times of singing together, of reading scripture, of praising Him and thanking Him are wonderful and integral. The singing in unison is vital. I agree that the breaking of bread in remembrance of Him is a central part of our worship together as well. We are sharing in community with Him as a community together.

I think my only thought is that the technology has to serve our community's connection to Him and to "walking as Jesus did." Occasionally I meet a young man or woman who can use new media to do that well without getting consumed with it as a toy.

If media can help us sense a clearer connection to walking with Him together, we will grab it. If not, then we do better without it.

josenmiami said...

Thanks Jamie, I think I am tracking with you now. I am still just a little unclear about what you mean in this phrase: “worship for me got untracked in some ways with the help of our own movement” … I’m not sure if you mean that our movement helped “untrack” worship or helped get it back on track.

However, I am with you on the idea of a “Jesus-centered”, “gospels-centered” approach to worship. An afterthought that occurred to me is the importance of worshipping God by attempting to incorporate the commands of Christ into our lives. Jesus said “if you love me, keep my commands” (forgive me, I am in the grad room at the university and do not have access to the scriptures to give you the references – however, I believe it is in John 14 or 15), and he also said that we are his “friends” is we have learned to keep his commands (John 15:14-15?).

Also, in the great commission, we are instructed to go into the world and make disciples of the ethne … and 1) baptize them, and 2) teaching them ALL that he has commanded us…

So for me, incorporating the imperative teachings of Christ into my own life, and modeling and imparting them to others in an authentic way, is probably the highest expression of worship. To be honest, I am not much into singing in unison any more, although I have nothing against it if it is combined with authentic discipleship.

Regarding technology, my main point in the last thread was not about the importance of using technology, but rather discerning how the new technology will change the way people think … interact…gather… and worship (and sin sadly). In Boshman's book, if I remember correctly, he talks about how we interact with media as children actually helping to structure our brain cells ... so that we learn to think in "print" or in interactive media or in other ways.

Steve, I agree that the Creeds (and ancient prayers and liturgies…I am thinking here of some of the Celtic prayers) are useful and to be cherished. I do, however, see them as accessories and part of our heritage rather than essential to worship. I cannot easily imagine the Motilone Indians of Colombia reciting the Nicene Creed, but I can imagine them reciting the Jesus Creed of “Love God and love you neighbor by following Jesus” and studying a translated version of the sermon on the mount. I see the creeds as a bit more culture-bound, cognitive and Greek culture-oriented and more defensive against heresies than the “Jesus creed” which strikes me as rather timeless and universal.

Blessings, and thanks for the clarification!
j

Randy R. said...

A few blog entries ago, sorry, but this train does move quickly (!), Brian asked in response to my comment, why don't I (we) practice the divine liturgy? A good and fair question. The comments that followed continue to examine our practices or lack thereof. Perhaps, I could rephrase it slightly, "What value, if any, does the ancient faith, hold for us?

Having spent some time on the field, but not nearly as much as Joseph or Jamie, I can say, that I strongly agree that we must consider the cultural context for our faith. Undeniably. So, obviously, we must ask, "What aspects are transcultural?"

Sorry, I am getting long-winded like our brother, Joseph :-}! I just finished having lunch with a man who was once part of our church. We have developed a rich friendship over the past year. His daughter (who graduated from our high school in 1987) recently visited our church with our family. I asked if they were interested, and he stated, much to my surprise, that they are looking for a church that sings hymns and uses more litergy!!!!

Therefore, I think we all agree that one size doesn't necessarily fit all! Yet, we have incorporated more litergy, at least one Sunday per month. On the fourth Sunday, the apex of our service is the LORD's supper. During that time, we recite the Nicene Creed. To me it reprents our union with the larger body of Christ, worldwide, wherever Jesus is present. Likewise our communion time is more formal and rich . . . not just pass the wavers and get on to the next part of the service. I believe, contrary to my brother Joseph's statement, that this creed can have meaning in any culture, especially if the people understand its meaning, significance, and purpose.

On Wednesday nights we have an event called the Dwelling Place. The goal is to dwell together with the LORD (Eph. 2:22). We worship, pray, share prophetic insights, etc. throughout the evening and once again, share in the LORD's Supper. For what it is worth, the last two times I have visited the Dwelling Place, I have had the same unusual experience: following receiving the elements, I have become totally numb! Literally, for an hour, I could not move! Not 100% sure what the LORD is up to, but the second time, another sister present had the same experience. :-}}}

josenmiami said...

long winded? me? darn. I was mentored all those years ago by John Meadows, impartation must reall work.

Brian Emmet said...

Joseph, do you think it's important to be trinitarian in our understanding and practice? Is "trinity" a human construct or a revelation... or some of both?

One of my concerns about "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself" is that the reference point so easily become ME: my understanding of God, almmost an AA-kind of God-as-you-think-of-whatever-you-think-God-might-be. I understand why that is a good and appropriate strategy for AA, but feel it a terrible one for a Christian community.

Worship has a tremendous teaching and formative role, in the lives of invidual believers as well as the life of their community. It also is a very important way in which we maintain the unity of the body with our older siblings, who are not dead but present in the presence of the Lord: they are a part of us, and when we lose that connection, we lose something vital. We are of course not obligated by their every thought and practice, but they are members of us, and we of them, in the one body of Messiah. I think our Protestant tendency towards fragementation (20,000+ denominations and growing!) and individualism ill-serve us in ways we may have become quite blind to.

josenmiami said...

yes, I do think it is important, but I am not sure where I would locate it in the gospels. Good question.

Regarding what is good or not for the Christian community: remember the distinction between the “church” and the "work". That does not negate your excellent point, but it probably explains why the trinity is not foremost in my mind, since I am focused almost entirely on unbelieving or unchurched young people.

Convincing my young WoW friends that “God is three in one” is not yet at the front of the queue…I’m still at the point of persuading some of them that God even exists, others that Jesus is the Son of God, and yet others that, if he is the Son of God they must consider whether to follow him or not. I would imagine teaching concepts of the trinity come subsequent to faith and commitment, although the Celtic church provides a counter-example to my argument.

Good question, I’ll continue to give it thought (was I brief enough? ;-)

boy with a ball said...

Hey,

First, I have to say that helping those we are walking with meet the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has been vital. I think that we walk for a long time in incarnating these truths alongside them until they are asking questions and then we immediately speak to them about all three.

They all realize their need for a Father. They are drawn to the reality of who Jesus is. They are also drawn to the mystery, power, intimacy and help offered by the the Holy Spirit.

Joseph, I think Hosanna Integrity's success has been a part of the whole "Worship Movement" that has had it's good sides and it's bad sides. I will say that most people now would describe worship as music and not go very far beyond that as a result.

I don't mean that to lay blame but just to realize our part in what has happened.

John M. said...

Hi everyone. Wow, Randy, this train does move fast!

Joseph, thanks for the, a-hem, "compliment". Actually I have been aware of the length of your posts recently, I just didn't realize that it was my impartation...makes ME feel really important! :)

I've been reading along, and I'll try to summarize my comments. I want to first go back to an early comment by Jamie -- the worship/Nirvana experience, and the "untracking" of making worship a "song and dance".

I agree with those observations. As a former "worship leader" in a local covenant church, I evaluated worship on the "Nirvana" basis.

The "rush" I got from experiencing the Presence was the same [kind of] rush that addicts experience when they participate in their addiction. (Don't ask me how I know that!)

Now that I very rarely participate in "corporate worship" of that style, I don't know exactly how to evaluate it. I miss it. There are a lot worse things to be addicted to...but I have asked myself, was that a valid, weekly worship experience or was it a "fleshly" human, emotional experience that met a need in me more than glorifying God. I have to say, I don't know. Probably a mixture.

When God "shows up" it's awesome, but should that be a weekly expectation that hinges on my making the right song selection and being able to "perform" our liturgy of musical worship in such a way that the Nirvana experience happens each time?

Regarding worship being limited to singing and musicianship, it definitely fits with our performance, stage, concert oriented culture. It is a wonderful experience and their are worse ways to use musical performance, but we (as a church culture) become sub-scriptural when we make it the sole definition of worship. So, our large worship corporations that produce digital, professional worship music and promote stage oriented worship, is a mixed bag too. I'm not ready to throw that all away, but it is in serious need of being contextualized in the larger framework of scripture and lifestyle that is being discussed here.

John M. said...

OK, that got long, so I'm making a "Meadows maneuver".

Brian, regarding the "Jesus Creed" it is a direct quote from Deuteronomy, and Jesus quoted it in the Gospels, saying that there is no commandment greater than this, "Hear O' Israel, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

So, it is "kind of" scriptural, and, given Jesus' commentary on it, cannot be taken lightly. It orients toward behavior and attitude.

I love the Nicene and Apostle's creeds, but they orient theologically. I would take the both/and, not the either/or perspective.

But the "Jesus Creed", (title coined by Scot McKnight) seems to be the best starting point to begin to orient a post-modern tribal or a pre-modern tribal to the heart of a Jesus lifestyle.

I think that reciting the creeds without understanding them (ie teaching the scriptural reality behind them) is of little value and produces "dead" liturgy rather than "live" worship.

Regarding the Trinity, I'm with you Jamie. Joseph, how can you say, that you can't find the Trinity in the Gospels? Try re-reading them and look for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three are everywhere!

Jesus' Baptism. Jesus continually referencing the Father as He moved, lived, spoke and acted in the power of the Holy Spirit. Read John 14-17 and look for the Trinity. He's everywhere!

John M. said...

The Meadows maneuver is now being replaced by the "Reinhart Triple Post", but I promise that mine won't be as redundant as Randy's.

"The pattern of worship from earliest times centered on reading Scripture with comment and on prayers, all leading up to the Eucharist. There was also singing but I cannot find any evidence that it was a primary emphasis in worship."

Yes, Steve! I/we can do this. It's simple, it's portable, it can be practiced anywhere, anytime, by two or three, twenty or thirty, or hundreds or thousands. There are participatory and logistical issues as the numbers grow, so it would come as no surprise to you all that I would lean toward the smaller numbers, but see what I'm saying?

I think Steve is articulating the core reality of what the Church does (should do) when she gathers.

You don't even need power-point nor a worship band to pull it off. You don't need a pulpit or 30 hours of sermon preparation (not saying study is bad), nor video clips, nor drams, nor pews...sorry, I'm getting carried away...

josenmiami said...

sorry John, but you know it is true ... you hold the all time record from last July for a post that went 850 words ... even my longest recent post was only about 600 words. And that was because it was a subject that I am passionate about (generational change).

by the way, I agree with your comments on worship.

I just got back from the Tuesday night "Jesus" discussion at the bar ... we had a lot of spiritual warfare tonight ... two new people who are very lost and were very argumentative ... and a couple of Christian young people who got offended by us moving the location. It was exciting...God is on the move!

Randy R. said...

Footnote: John I remember being in Lexington in those earlier years following the national (really international) meetings in Atlanta, and before ACM . . . you lead worship. You are an OUTSTANDING worship leader. Do I get an AMEN out there?

josenmiami said...

AMEN! and an outstanding mentor!

steve H said...

In the light of the discussion about the Jesus creed and the Shema, I would highly recommend N.T. Wright's discussion of the light shed on the Shema by 1 Corinthians 8:1-6, Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:15-20; Galatians 4:1-7, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, and Romans 8:1-11 (chapter 4 "Paul and Jesus" in "What Saint Paul Really Said").

I am confident that no one is questioning the Trinity, but if Wright is right, then the triune reality of God is at the core of the good news about Jesus and His Kingdom.

John M. said...

Thanks Randy and Joseph. Joseph, please don't total the words in my last three posts? OK Records are one thing, but I don't want to over do it...!

josenmiami said...

I generally only do a word check on my own emails John. I did it last July on one thread while we were in Brazil in order to hand out gag awards, if you remember.

Steve, this is in no way a 'push back' toward your comments, nor is it intended to be "in-your-face" toward anyone in our discussion (although I have had a short fuse lately...probably due to personal issues).

Although I think I would agree with you that the trinity is part of the core of the good news, I have to say that there is a difference between theorizing about the gospel when one is surrounded by people who committed to Christ in the 1970s, or their children, and rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty engaging unbelievers and skeptics.

I did a paper for Dow Robinson years ago on “Jesus-style evangelism” after reviewing all of the encounters recorded in the gospels between Jesus and “sinful” people. I cannot recall one time that Jesus engaged people on a primarily cognitive level with propositional truth.

I was with the WOW group last night in Homestead. There was fierce S.W. My daughter and her boyfriend decided at the last minute to move the location from her patio to the pool hall where the crowd hangs out. The patio has been getting too small, and one of their friends, the agnostic guy’s sister, was feeling a little left out. The group jumped from 9 to 12, with two of the "Christian" young people missing and furious that they had not been consulted in the change. The new young people, who joined us, included a shamanist, and a hedonist who were much more augmentative than the previous crowd. While they were getting heated in an argument about God’s forgiveness, my daughter and I were getting angry text messages and phone calls from those who had felt left out. Theological purity was not on the top of my agenda in the middle of that wonderful mess. I was just trying to create an atmosphere of safety and love that may draw them back next week.

Ok, here I go off on a “pathetically” anointed rant: Most of us in this blog have easily had 30 years to work on our theology and get it right. Rather than continuing to ‘fine tune’ our understandings of ecclesia, or the trinity, might I suggest that we get out into the harvest and generate some fruit? Where is the verse that says that where there is no oxen the stall is clean? But from the strength of an ox comes the harvest. We need to get out and generate a little divine disorder and produce some fertilizer, before we are all worshipping in retirement homes. Sorry, Brian I got off topic, and John and Randy, this comment weighs in at 476 words. Cheers! 478

John said...

Joseph, Cheers!
Your pathetically "anointed" rant was right on the mark, and possibly why more are not involved in the post. Good comment, except about the nursing home...I'm probably the oldest on this blog. Oh, I forgot about Gary H.
John L

John M. said...

Joseph,
I didn't mean to imply that we should engage unbelievers in a theoretical discussion of the doctrine of the trinity.

But I think as we press into the harvest and ask the Lord of portals into the harvest, that it is important for us to be aware of the activity and reality of the trinity in our own lives and in the life of Jesus.

I'm glad you're ranting. The passion just may be contageous and catalytic.

josenmiami said...

I think what Jamie would say is that as we reach out to lost people, who are hurting, who need to know a loving father, who need forgiveness and salvation and who need a touch of God's power through the Spirit...they will eventually "experience" the trinity in a dynamic, life-changing way. He alluded to that, and I have been pondering it.

In my rantings, I realize I am coming from a prophetic-evanglist angle, and I in no way mean to diminish the value of our pastor-teacher brothers (and sisters? just in case) who help us with theology.

boy with a ball said...

Just to get in on this, I think a danger of our situation is that very few Christians maintain a lifestyle of connection with outsiders...which is fascinating considering that Jesus did as a "friend of sinners."
The danger here is that there is not a lot of good accountability, equipping and evaluation for those of us who are doing this work.
I think the standard for evangelistic work should always be whether or not we have reached them deeply enough that they are reproducing spiritually.
With that said, I will say that the issue of the Trinity is not about prepositional truth...it is about existential reality.
Young people today, in order to come home to Him in a meaningful way must come to the Trinity. I don't even usually have to mention it...they ask me about how to overcome cyclical habits or the hole in their heart.
We simply explain the reality of knowing Him. They are overjoyed at the possibility of knowing the Father. They are drawn to all that they have heard about the person of Jesus. They yearn for supernatural help that they see offered in the Holy Spirit.

We do a whole lot of "contact work" or going out and we look for those who are hungry to "press in" to. Usually, if we have read them right, these issues come up pretty quickly.

John M. said...

Jamie, I was reading today about the loss of "Christian memory" in the US, and how that affects the way we present the Gospel. Ex. the Roman Road, Evangelism Explosion, the Bridge, etc. are all based on the supposition that the persons being presented to are already familiar with the Christian story, and the fact that we can't assume that any more. Amen to that!

I'm brining it up, because I wonder how much residual "Christian memory" you encounter in the Latin culture. The fact that the idea of God as Trinity doesn't seem that foreign to the people you're reaching...but then you're saying it's mainly experiential, not suppositional. You've reached out in the US and in Latin America. Do you see any difference in Latino youth mindset and North American? Just wondering...

Brian Emmet said...

Man, I typed up this brilliant, insightful, prophetic comment, and sent it, and it seemed to go through, and now it's not there!

So grouchy as I now am about this massive cyber-injustice, may I remind us to arc back in the general direction of our worship topic... we're starting to bend away...

Hey, it wasn't even "my" topic!

josenmiami said...

yes, sorry Brian.

I have been listening to a CD by Fernando Ortega lately... one of the songs he sings is Pass me Not oh Gentle Savior... here are the lyrics:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Refrain:
Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief,
Kneeling there in deep contrition;
Help my unbelief.

Refrain

Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Refrain

Thou the Spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in heav'n but Thee?

... I just posted the youtube version on the website.... I am pausing in our discussion to lift my heart up to the savior in worship ... Oh God, oh my Lord.... Please do not pass me by.... please... lead me to the throne of mecy ...oh how I need the healing and the sweet releash ... help my unbelief!

josenmiami said...

...oops.. "release" ... sorry... I broke the mood.

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Joseph, for posting the video. A very apt and artful way to bend our conversation back to topic! Also making some points about the digitization of worship...

boy with a ball said...

Lovin again that talking about evangelism is seen as out of place in the conversation on worship. Interesting indicator.
John, Latin America is full of awareness of God at least in their conversation. My point is more toward that experiential yearning in all people towards what they were made to encounter in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is similar in both cultures.
Where we find the differences culturally are in discipling them into depth.
Back to worship...sorry guys.

steve H said...

I'll be away a few days. My wife's brother died and we are headed out shortly for the visitation later today and the funeral tomorrow. Ironically, her family is celebrating a wedding Saturday night. (One of the deceased's grandsons was married in Canada two weeks ago and the family wedding banquet was scheduled for this weekend.)

In addition, I'll be helping out with the care of my Mother in between these other activities.

When faced with the death of my son, worship was the posture that saw me through.

josenmiami said...

Brian: I LOVE Fernando Ortega's stuff...I first was introduced to him when Kevin Davenport sent me the Spanish version "Camino Largo" he is a true artist and a true worshipper. He song "Lonely Road" brings such sweetness and peace to me, especially in Spanish. I was actually worshipping when I posted the youtube, until I noticed my misspelling of release.

Steve: we will be praying for you, the family and your time with your mom. In addition to humor, worship is our only alternative when faced with the ongoing challenges of stage 4, terminal cancer. Deb just told me 5 minutes ago that Dr. Wang is talking about doing a mastectomy ... "all hail the power of Jesus name -- he has conqured death"

Jamie: BAM! ... you do doing a good job of becoming more direct and not apologetic.... I'm proud of you! Now, let's see if the blog can stand both of us fire-breathing pathetic evangelists at the same time...

John L: you should speak up more often.

Sean, Stephen, Don, Michael, Jeff, Matt, Patrick, William, Sam and Cindi, Robert, we miss all of you! Come and worship with us.

Brian Emmet said...

Apologies for seeming to communicate that evangelism and worship don't belong in the same conversation. Fire-breathing evangelists, lead the way!

josenmiami said...

no need to apologize Brian...we need your voice of reason to keep us focused and balanced. Perhaps I should apologize to you if any of my comments have been over the top.

I spent the afternoon sitting at a table outside working on a paper for tomorrow...it is a marvelously beautiful day in South Florida, low humidity and hovering in the mid-70s. The paper is a review a Spanish book called “The Hive,” set in Madrid in 1942. The title of my paper is “Love and Lust in Cela’s La Colmena” and I work into the book review concepts of eros, phileo and agape. I put forth the idea that lust leads to a descending path of dehumanization and damnation and that love (agape) sets us on the ascending path of divinity...knowing God. Its fun trying to work biblical themes into academic language.

I said all of that to say, I felt worshipful as I labored over the paper and looked out over a beautiful view of the lake on our campus.

One of the themes of the book is the uncertainty of our journey… the uncertainty of tomorrow. Probably the hardest thing for me in worship, is being able to fully worship God in this present moment, loving him, obeying him, trusting him, without any clue what the future holds. Oddly, that seems to be getting harder for me….probably because I am becoming more aware that I have no control over the future.

josenmiami said...

ok, now that we have pissed everyone off, or intimidated or frustrated them into silence, let me toss out a scenario and question.

Can worship happen with simple prayer? In our Tuesday night group, we started a few weeks ago asking for prayer requests at the end of our discussion. As we wait in silence for someone to pray, it seems like God’s presence has started to show up in a profound way. I find that the young adults look forward to that prayer time, almost more than the discussion – it seems like a tangible experience of God’s presence for them. Question: is that worship for them? Perhaps at least a starting place?

John M. said...

When the presence of the Lord is tangible in the silence like that, I think people have different responses.

Those who are moving toward God and really seeking, will, I believe, recognize and honor (worship) him in some way.

Those who are moving away from Him, or really don't care, might be afraid or unmoved, but won't really worship.

Depending on their degree of spiritual sensitivity, some will be aware of a profound sense of God, and others won't have a clue and will just feel uncomfortable and/or bored.

Even sincere followers of Jesus, seem to have a whole range of responses to God's immanent presence.

Regarding Tues. night, maybe it would make a good discussion some night to talk about what people experience during the prayer time. It could help some who don't quite know what's going on to learn to point their heart toward the Lord and listen...kind of like Samuel when he thought he was hearing Eli, then realized it was God.

josenmiami said...

thanks John. The young people who are meeting on Tues. are hungry for God and especially hungry for his presence.

Part of the challenge is how do I gradually introduce them to worship, without putting up walls for those who have not yet made up their mind? Every step toward what we call worship today creates new social markers. If we start singing songs, we put up a wall with those who don't know the songs. If we use a guitar... the present spontaneity and give and take dialogue in our present discussions is diminished. The seekers who arrive early might be fine with it, but the inquirers who show up late -- who are skeptical and hesitant, and largely unbeleiving, will stop coming. A guitar will turn our gathering into a "meeting."

I am trying to go slow...and to give the whole group time to process as a group, and to make a "group" decision for Christ ... similar to what Father Vincent Donovan did in "Christianity Rediscovered" among the Massai in Africa.

Jamie is right, that there is a connection between evangelism and worship ... but it is not a simple one. It seems to me to be more like a continuem... at what point do we move from evangelism into discipleship and worship?

Sorry, if i am turning this back too much to the harvest again. If anyone wants to bring up a different aspect of worship...like the Ancient aspect, feel free.

Speaking of which, here is an interesting on-line blog discussion of Eastern Orthodoxy...by a guy named Bradley Nassif (blog: Parchment and Pen)

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/03/08/why-eastern-orthodoxy-part-1-introduction/

John M. said...

Joseph, I think you're right on track. You said earlier that individuals in the group initiate, and participate in the prayer time on their own. I would let it continue to seek it's own level, and definitely keep it at simple conversational prayer.

I definitely would not try to introduce singing -- unless one of the group does it. I have tried a few times over the last 3 - 4 years to introduce singing into our 20 something group and it has flopped every time. We "just" pray.

Interestingly Acts 2 doesn't mention singing, and as much as I enjoy it, I wonder, sometimes, if it really fits well in small/simple. If the "gifted" person is not there, it seems unable to happen.

I think that normative should be the group functioning freely with it's interchangeable parts -- not to be dependent on one person.

Maybe music is more suited to larger venues that I would call special meetings or perhaps "worship concerts" rather than as an expected part of the daily life of the church.

I think, though, that an open ended question like, "Did anyone experience anything that you would like to share or ask about while we were praying -- especially during the silence?", could start a productive discussion about our ability to experience God's presence and His desire for us to know Him.

This is exciting! We're discussing the issue of a group of "barely believers", pre-believers, seekers and skeptics worshiping and encountering God's presence. It doesn't get any better than that!

That's enough of my thoughts. What do the rest of you think?

John M. said...

Another thought on Worship. What about the relationship between our sexuality and Worship...to be more graphic, is there a connection between the act of married sexual intercourse and the act of worship?

Consider, I Cor. 6:13-20 and Ephesians 5 for starters.

If we are joined to Christ we are His Body, and we are His Bride.
So is it unreasonable to understand worship, or at least one aspect of worship, in its most intimate form as being a tryst with our heavenly Bridegroom?

Is this why there is not physical, marriage in heaven? Is worship by His People on the earth a foretaste of the age to come?

God created us "in His likeness and image", and He created us with sexuality, male and female. God as Spirit does not have sexuality as we understand it, but Jesus does -- he is male, and we corporately are his Bride.

A book made the rounds in our local setting a couple decades ago, calaled "Destined for the Throne". In it the author, Paul Bilhimer, states that "there is romance at the heart of the universe".

The rush I mentioned in an earlier post that I have often experienced in the charismatic/Covenant style of worship is nearly identical to the rush of physical intercourse.

I'm obviously way over my head here, and it could just the musings of my own mind. This post emerged from a random thought about Jesus never having experienced married human love.

Or am I onto an aspect of worship that is deep and sacred?

What do you think?

josenmiami said...

hi John: this has become a two-way conversation between you and me...perhaps we should take it to email.

But responding to your last comment, there is a lot of sexual/romantic type imagery in the Christian mystics, particularly women like St. Teresa and others. I can't remember some of the names right now, but there were a number of female Christian mystics in the middle ages who experienced oneness with God in almost sexual terms, not in the crude sense, but in terms of intimate rapture.

I have been searching Youtube this morning and found a wide variety of examples of worship ... from E.O, to the Latin Mass to blue grass gospel. I may try posting some of them over the next few days.

steve H said...

On the theme of worship -- Ted Sandquist is re-releasing a good deal of his worship music and it can be found at

http://www.gwionline.org/main.htm

"Courts of the King" with a couple additional songs is in the works. "Higher Up and Further In" (which includes live worship from Love Inn)is out, as well as The Best of Psol 1984-1992. "Be My Refuge" (songs recorded in the Love Inn studio during the 70's) will be released within a month or so.

By the way, Ted and I will be traveling together to Gatlinburg for next months CSM meeting.

Brian Emmet said...

JOhn, I guess my first question is, how do we distinguish between fertility worship and "genuine" worship? The connection between our experience of worship and our experience of sexuality is ancient, predating Israel's near-fatal struggle against Baal, Ashtoreth, etc. I know that's not where you're going, but you also know that the opportunity to run off the rails, especially where sex is involved, is nearly irresistible! Where will you put the guardrails?

steve H said...

Perhaps Scripture set to simple tunes such as we sang so often in small house groups in the early 70's would be more fitting for small groups today as well than the hi-tech worship team music popularized by Integrity and others.

Singing, although, not mentioned in Acts 2 (which actually does not describe the manner of worship at all, as far as I can see) does have it's place, I think, as is seen in 1 Cor 14:34 (assuming that "having a psalm" refers to a song), in Eph 5:19, and in Col 3:16. May God release songs from the heart from our younger folks.

josenmiami said...

Although I think music has been overemphasized--all good things tend to be taken to extremes--it seems to me that there was one occasion that Jesus and the 12 sang a hymn. There is also the evidence of Paul and Silas, and, more importantly for me, when Paul describes what ought to happen when a local group assembles in 1 Cor. 14 (verse 26 I believe), he mentions that everyone should bring something, including a teaching or doctrine, a prophesy, a song and a psalm.

As far as sexuality, I believe the guardrails must be Eph 5 where Paul compares the relationship between a man and wife to Christ and the church and calls it a "great mystery" ... married, covenantal sexuality is a metaphor for the intense love and desire that God has toward his people. I tend to agree with the Catholics that marriage, in this sense, is a sacrament and a means of grace.

John M. said...

Brian, to answer your question about the guard rails, see Joseph's last paragraph of his last post (#57).

By-the-way, regarding our physical sexuality, I did not intend to imply that it should be expressed outside the marriage covenant.

But obviously from the scriptures there is a mysterious connection between the "one flesh" of marriage and the "one spirit" of worship of God.

Sam and Cindy said...

I just read your whole discussion in one sitting, and boy, you guys are on a roll!
Now that I am spinning and thinking and wondering how to interject anything, I've got to head to work. But I will continue to ponder... and will see where the train is later this evening!
-Cindy

josenmiami said...

Hi Cindy! we look forward to your comments.

Something that I have overlooked in this conversation but which is vital, and which occured to me as I was walking by the canal this morning, is that our worship is not for us, as much as it is for the Lord. I thought of Acts 13 where the prophets and teachers were "ministering" (serving) to the Lord. Another passage that occured to me was the chapter on fasting in Isaiah..."this is the fast that I desire' says the Lord..." which has overtones of social justice.

John M. said...

Excellent point Joesph. I have also been thinking about the Eucharist. It seems difficult for us Protestants to keep the Communion meal in focus. Even Protestant groups that take Communion each week, seem to do it as a routine habit, and see it as only symbolic rather than as a deep act of worship.

I would be interested to know what emphasis we put on the Eucharist and how often we take Jesus Body and Blood in our regular church gatherings.

Do you agree or disagree that Communion is an act of worship?

William said...

joseph, I think that as the young people in the tues night group continue to enter into God's presence through prayer, the Spirit will continue to nurture what is being planted through the discussions and prayer times and worship will be a natural flow.

In regard to Communion, I am glad this aspect of worship has been brought up. The past week I have been thinking about John 6:55-57

"For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

56"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

57"As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.


In John 15, Jesus talks about remaining and abiding in Him through obedience and love. I just think it is interesting that He brings up the promise of abiding in him first with regards to communion.

Brian Emmet said...

Interestingly, some Protestant commentators--e.g., the notes in the NIV Study Bible--don't see John 6 as referring to communion at all, probably because they want to avoid the Roman Catholic reading of the text: we do not share in the life of Jesus, they would say, because we participate in a ritual, rite or act of any kind, including communion. Besides, Jesus wasn't "talking about" the eucharist in John 6--communion hadn't even been "instituted" yet.

You know, in all this long conversation, no one has yet offered an attempt at a "working definition" of the word "worship." Actually, that's not quite right, but the lack of a tentative working definition has caused this conversation to range widely, which Joseph enjoys and which I find frustrating!

So here's my try: worship is our response to God's self-revelation, in history (Israel), Scripture, and preeminently, in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the starting point for worship (this isn't part of the definition anymore, it is now my Exposition) cannot be culture, cannot be the individual ("I feel close to God when I ___"), although these will be taken into account. The alpha and omega of worship is responding fully and appropriately to God's initiative, God's actions, God's revelation of his Nature and Purpose and Glory.

Randy R. said...

WOW! I need to hurry to catch this train! John in reference to your question about how we do communion, I made an earlier post outlining our practice. With regard to your reference to the intimacy between a husband and wife and Christ and His church, go for it! Mike Bickle has a whole, huge teaching on this "The Bridegroom Paradim" (sp) that has essentially becoming the defining element of his ministry. He uses the Song of Solomen, which is VERY graphic! The only problem I have is that I know of at least one marriage where the wife is in LOVE with Jesus, quite intimate with him, and unable to express that same physical affection for her husband. He is hurting big time!:-{

Sam and Cindy said...

While I read through your discussion earlier this morning, I felt like there are two aspects that haven't really been addressed in relation to worship: Authority and humility. I didn't know how to insert this, so I'm glad Brian brought back a question of trying to find a starting point or definition, or "what are we really talking about?".

I don't think I really care what a worship style is. A distinction was made by a famous worship artist that "a true worshiper can still worship even when the music is terrible" and that has convicted me every time I am critical of a style or the excellence or lack thereof in a worship service. I have my preferences, of course, but I can visit other places, churches, or groups, and enjoy the diversity. But my church culture is my church culture, and so the things that feel like "home" will always resonate in me.
(I am assuming, by the way, that we are discussing worship services in regard to style and method, and then there is also our connected discussion of the attitude of the heart in our daily lives, which is the greater of the two, since the music/style/whatever is just a form of expressing what's in our hearts.)

I believe that worship is impossible without a grasp of being under authority, and having a sense of humility (i.e., a concept of honor and value of the One worshipped, and a sense of one's worth in light of the Lord's greatness and holiness), then thankfulness for His condescention and agape love toward us, and from that, regardless of the form or style or format of worship, there will be both joy in the heart, and obedient response.
This is worked out in style of worship (e.g., authority is necessary in a church, for a worship leader to lead a congregation while still being under the authority of the church's pastor, who is the instrument of authority in the local body), and in outreach - how does one come to Jesus unless some of these aspects of humility and/or awe are grasped by the heart? In true recognition of who Jesus is, thanksgiving and joy and obedience will be the fruit of real worship.

Our pastor has been speaking for a number of weeks (since around or before the Thanksgiving holiday, really) about the Kingdom of God. In the course of it, we have been weekly reciting the Lord's Prayer ("Our Father..."). To really pray it, the prayer has to be offered in an attitude of humility and of understanding of the authority of God over us. Since when we are involved in a worship "service," our goal must be to offer some kind of service to the one who is our King, and our Father. So I think that brings it into some realm beyond just standing in a row of chairs to participate in the singing of songs, to seeking to both ascribe greatness to God and to be attentive for a word from him. You don't have to go far to find the connection to humility.

Part of the Kingdom of God is the commission to extend it, which is part and parcel with these two concepts of authority (we are both under authority, and are given authority) and humility (we are the redeemed, not the perfect, so we're the ideal candidates to tell about this good news that we can be accepted into this family), so I feel not a little proud of myself for seeing the connection. (Yeah, that was honesty there, not humility, sorry guys.) =)

-Cindy

Brian Emmet said...

Hey, Cindy, in the midst of the bloviating that occasionally graces this site, you are a model of humility as well as honesty! However, do the excess length of your comment, we do have to ask you to put your "fine" of $1 into the jar...whenever we can find where we left the jar...

Never mind... you certainly haven't used up your allocation of comment space, so consider the fine waived! After all, if we enforced the fine on you, what would happen to Messrs Meadows (stay under the comment limit by breaking one comment into three or four sub-comments, kind of like shifting money in just under the $10K limit to escape government notice), Reinhardt ("triple post with double toe loop") and, uh, Emmet ("chief of sinners")? Keep contributing!

Randy, perhaps that brother and his wife who's so in love with Jesus that she won't... maybe that's not really a "worship" issue, eh? We'll have to come back to that whenever we get to a "pastoral care" theme...

Hey, all ye lurkers lurking out there? C'mon--we've got sex and rock-and-roll going here. Must we throw in the drugs to elicit (not "illicit"!) your participation?

josenmiami said...

hey Cindy,

Please take Brian with a grain of salt ... he uses a lot of ironic sense of humor which can leave one at times confused about if he is serious or kidding. He was kidding. Your post was well within acceptable limits...not to mention that it was profound. I really liked your reflections on submission to authority and humility and I agree that they go to the heart of worship, especially humility.

Brian: good definition. I like it. Although worship "styles" will inevitably gravitate toward cultural influence, the actual heart of worship must be an obedient (and humble) response to God and what he desires from us.

Randy: I had forgotten about Mike Bickle's teaching on this. Also, if you or Fred come across a good Youtube video reflecting worship in the Jewish tradition, please send the link to me.

John: thanks for getting us going again and giving us a PG-13 rating, if not an "R" for "R"EALLY good...

Will: I have some thoughts about the bread and the wine, but they are probably pretty politically incorrect...I think I will wait awhile before commenting.

All: I posted a Youtube with street interviews with secular young people about who Jesus is. I found it quite fascinating to listen to these interviews inbetween watching a bunch of worship video's from different traditions. I still have a couple of Catholic video's and a contemporary Charistmatic worship in Hungary to post, interspersed with part 2 and 3 of the street interviews with "LOST" people. Let's keep this going for a little while!

John M. said...

There you go Brian -- herbal worship. God made all those herbs and plants, didn't he? ... hmmm, where have I heard that before?

Back to the Eucharist and John 6... Obviously, there are numbers of commentators who believe it does refer to Communion, and others think it has a dual meaning.

I would come down with the both/and. Jesus was speaking of "feeding" on him daily, even moment by moment.

But, the language is too parallel to the language of the "Last Supper" to not have some bearing on it in retrospect.

Interestingly, John is the only synoptic writer that does not use the "this is my body and blood" statement at the pre-crucifixion Passover meal, but he seems to include it here as the precursor of what was to come, which, when read with knowledge of what did come, enriches the memorial celebration of generations of believers to follow -- including us.

Brian Emmet said...

Yes, Cinday, please take Brian with as much salt as needed to make him palatable. My apologies if I stepped on your toes in any way.

And to further a point you made: every weekday of the school year, I lead a "congregation" of 4- to 14-year-olds in worship. We sometimes are assisted by a "band" of musicians who are learning to play the guitar, drums, or to sing "up front." I well remember, in the midst of one particularly chaotic worship time, God speaking, with what "sounded" like a smile on his face--"If you can worship me here, you'll be able to worship anywhere!"

boy with a ball said...

My resistance to blogs and all of the other cyber connectors is that it continues our movement toward being completely word-based.

We don't even have to leave our house or our underwear to exchange words anymore. It can turn into relationship-lite or even communication minus the sacrifices necessary for relationship. (I am not implying any of that towards this group but pointing to the general tendency.)

That coincides with alot of other dangers involved in the way the Gospel is presented these days: simply reading a book with red lettered pages...simply singing a song...simply sitting in a pew or folding chair each week to hear theology in rational soundbites...simply elucidating amazing truths that we are barely or not even living.

So worship is victimized in this move. We can stand and sing easily...but is that worship?

Cindy's point about authority and humility can even go deeper to also touch sincerity. If we truly are humblel and coming to Him in such complete surrender, in adoration which leads to revelation and then transformation...shouldn't it enter the realm of action at some point?

It did with Abraham. It did with Jacob..with Moses...with Joshua...with Samuel...not so much with Saul...with David, Elijah, Elisha. It certainly did with Jesus and then those He trained. It did with the early Church.

Those of us who bring up evangelism here do so because it is the glaring fruit or lack of fruit that would seem to indicate that we are not bringing Him "more than a song."

Derek Prince said we are followers of Jesus only when we are following Him. Why would He lead us into being able to be capable wordsmiths, impressive bloggers, suave surfers of church politics, fluid musicians and all that but just see it stop there? His heart seemed to be for those dying and worship above all things seems to be following after His heart. Why does it stop on the easy levels?

When does the authority Cindy touches with her words transfer into our actions? Love expressed in obedience.

josenmiami said...

ouch!

boy with a ball said...

Perhaps I need to apologize for my tone in that last message. I have spoken to Brian today and tried to make clear to him that my frustration or emotion in the last two posts were in no way intended toward him.

Brian, for the record, is one of the best friends I can imagine and a man who lives the line that is necessary better between corporate worship and community interaction than almost any man I know of. I always think it injust that he is positioned as the voice balancing any evangelistic voice.

My heart does break for all of us that we have seen the highest in worship as a song and a dance. I keep seeing faces out there who need Him and I see you all as the best answer I know. What will it take for the beauty of our songs to Him within the sanctuaries of our homes and houses of worship to blow the doors down and reach people who long to hear them and to know the One they are directed to.

Chalk all this up to post-modern angst, I guess.

Again, forgive me Brian if my words were contrary to my heart for you and your family. I love you very much.

Jamie

Brian Emmet said...

I am deeply grateful, almost to tears, for Jamie's kind, generous and grace-filled words. As Jamie put it to me privately, he and I are more than OK on all of this.

My apologies for taking us so far "off topic" here, or if this feels like I'm getting too personal... but if our blog doesn't help us make some deeper relational connections, and help us to live more fully faithfully, it is just mere words and ideas. And I know none of us really wants that.

John M. said...

Brian, Jamie, et al, this blog has been a life-line for me, giving me a connection with like-minded brothers and sisters (Sometimes! Hi Cindy! Are you reading Sarah, Ruth?). It is iron sharpening iron for me. And yes, it has affected, attitudes, mindset, and sometimes even my actions.

Jamie, I deeply respect your activism. I have always admired guys like you and Joseph, Gary Henley (and the list goes on), who can move forward and get things done, while catalyzing others into action as well.

I'm more conceptual, and, yes, word oriented. But ideas and words do have consequences, and do shape attitudes and even actions. They're just not as spectacular or fast-acting. I think we need both kinds of gifts, and the gifts need one another.

I agree 100% with Jamie's comment on sincerity and the reality that true worship and contact with the transcendent God of the universe will move one to living differently and to inner transformation.

josenmiami said...

this is great... warm and fuzzy and deepened relationships...

but... I want to encourage us not to pass over what Jamie said, even if it was over the top or not directed at anyone in particular. He is probably carrying a valid prophetic burden ... they always come like new wine, with an edge.

when Jamie talks about the "song and dance" ... I think he is carrying an insight for the larger body of Christ ... not directed at anyone in here in particular.

our movement has never done very well at making a place for the prophetic ... the prophetic is messy and unpleasant... but we disregard it at our own peril.

so...can we spit out the bones and try to "hold fast to that which is good"? What is God saying to us through Jamie's exhortation?

I just got back from the wow group in Homestead...so I am a little tired and just a bit tipsy...

josenmiami said...

hey guys, not to interrupt our delightful discusion about worship, but I just wanted to point out that there is a really good series of posts by Scot McKnight on www.jesuscreed.org/ discussing the marks or characteristics of both conservative and post-conservative Evangelicals. He is reviewing a book by Roger Olson called "Reformed and always Reforming."

http://www.jesuscreed.org/

based on his typology I must be a "post-conservative" evangelical.

josenmiami said...

well Jamie... your comment was effective, if not in getting us into action, at least to get us to stop talking. All of the "capable wordsmiths (Brian?), impressive bloggers (maybe me?), suave surfers of church politics (definitely not me!)" have been unusually quiet for the last 24 hours (friendly playful smile) ... and I don't know if Cindy just got busy, or was intimidated by Brian's playful kidding about the length of her comment.

So, let me drop a hand grenade and see if I can get us talking again ... there was some discussion earlier about communion. I have been giving a lot of thought to the issue and I have come to the conclusion that I really believe that the bread and wine are just bread and wine – symbols that represent the body and blood of the Lord. I am sharing this as a bit of personal reflection rather than a theological statement. If I really believed what I think some of you believe in a “high” view of the Eurcharist, I would take communion more often, but I don’t (we have communion about once every 6 months). Perhaps my Methodist holiness background or my period in the Society of Friends are to blame.

I believe that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when he said “this is my body – this is my blood.” I also believe that the highest reality of sharing the elements of commuion is relational rather than somehow a magical transformation of the actual elements. Jesus illustrated the covenant meal by the washing of feet – St. Paul, in the context of 1Corinthians 11, 12, 13 and 14, said that many were sick and some had died because they did not “rightly discern the body of the Lord.” I don’t believe he was talking about the bread and wine, I believe he was talking about the divisions, broken relationships and unforgiveness among the members of the Corinthian body. The body of the Lord that they were not discerning rightly was one another.

I don’t believe there is much real value to the covenant meal unless there is a real, functioning covenant community of relationships being symbolically expressed through bread and wine. If people are not “one-anothering” and following Jesus, it is pointless for them to be eating bread and wine for some kind of magical effect.

There … that ought to get some conversation going!

Brian Emmet said...

For my part, I believe that something "mystical"--in the highest, best, truest, most Biblical sense of the word--takes place at communion. The bread IS his body in a way I cannot define, but which is more than symbolic; same for the cup.

But I would also offer the idea that "we are what we eat." The 'point' is that, however communion "works", we are to become more like Jesus as a result of participating in it. I cannot take the elements and hate my brother or sister; I cannot receive Christ in the bread and the cup without also "seeing" and responding in love to "the littlest, the least, the last and the lost" of his brethren.

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John M. said...

Hmmm... Smartphone has found us. I didn't click the link, but I'm assuming this is a sales pitch.

If I'm wrong, my apologies to "Smartphone". If I'm right...scary!

josenmiami said...

yes...these kind of advertisements are on the increase. The only way to prevent it is to enable comment moderation which then makes the blog a little less accessible.

John M. said...

We've only had one in nearly a year; not bad!

Brian Emmet said...

Maybe it's just a reflection of how popular we really are!

Brian Emmet said...

OK, folks, feels like it's time to move on. The floor is now open for nominations for the next Subject of Debate and Discussion.


May I have those envelopes, please?

John M. said...

Jamie, I thought of you when I read this and couldn't resist. (I know this is not the Kick-Butt humor blog, but this does have the word "butt" in it.

One night I had wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen, The footprints of my precious Lord, But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared, And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"

Those prints are large and round and neat, "But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child,"He said in someber tones, "For miles I carried you along. I challenged you to walk in faith, but you refused and made me wait."

You disobeyed, you would not grow,the walk of faith, you would not know,

So I got tired, I got fed up, and there I dropped you on your butt."

Because in life, there comes a time, when one must fight, and noe must climb, when one must rise and take a stand,

Or leave their buttprints in the sand!"

--- Author unknown, but we all suspect Jamie; or maybe, Joseph

Brian Emmet said...

Ladies and you others, I am pleased to announce (a) a New Post and (b) John Meadows as its poster. So go "up" just a bit from "here"... yes, "there" you are!

John M. said...

Just before we changed threads, the thought occurred to me to pursue the theme of worship in the book of Revelation. It should be revealing when considering the subject of worship, if our desire is to see heaven come to earth and if we're planning to spend eternity there.

When I skimmed through the book with the express purpose of tracking worship, I found at least 25 separate incidents of true worship recorded. Three of false worship, in addition to the times John tried to worship an angel and was told not to.

It's a good exercise.

Chris said...

Have you ever felt like a kid who arrived late to the merry-go-round? There it goes, spinning right in front of you, but you can't seem to run fast enough with it to climb aboard! Forgive my perusing the comments, threads, and insights. I'll get to the point where I can "jump on" soon and maybe even climb up on one of those up-and-down horsies. In the meantime, I'm enjoying what I see.

Chris Hyatt