Friday, August 14, 2009

Hub of the Wheel

Many people look at worship as just one thing among many that the church does. Worship is but a single item on the list, they say, and not even the most important one at that. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. The only thing is, it’s seriously mistaken. If you buy that approach, worship really doesn’t amount to much and is in the take-it-or-leave-it category.

On the contrary, worship is supremely what the church does, and points profoundly to who the church is. The people of God are most visibly revealed to be the Body of Christ when gathered for worship in his name, when, as he promised, he is present. Then also it is made clear what the church is to do in the world as she follows her Lord.

A more helpful way of looking at the church’s liturgy is to see it as the hub of the wheel, from which radiate the spokes of education, mission, stewardship, and other aspects of congregational life. Here are a few of the more obvious relationships.

Worship and Education. All education in the church is rooted in the Sacrament of Baptism, and this is true whether you think of infant or adult baptism. The “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:18-20) makes it clear that we are charged to “go…and make disciples…baptizing them in the name…and teaching them to obey….” The charge to the church is to “baptize” and “teach” for this is how we “make disciples” [literally “learners”]. As a part of the congregation’s baptismal commitment is the resolution to provide the means of faith formation and nurture to each baptized person—so the congregation’s educational program is linked directly to worship. If we fail to see that link, the promises made by the congregation at baptisms are empty ones; if we keep the connection strong, the saints will be equipped and the church strengthened.

Worship and Stewardship. Any understanding of stewardship in the church finds its roots in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Here we encounter the risen Christ and receive at his table his very life, a life given in sacrificial love. Sacrificial giving on our part is the only suitable response. The sacrament is also known as “Eucharist,” which means Thanksgiving. Thankful giving is generous giving. Keeping this connection between stewardship and worship strong will empower the people and enhance the virtue of generosity.

Worship and Mission. Christian mission will always be anchored in the prophetic proclamation of the Word. Reading and preaching the Word of God is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, an encounter with the Word-become-flesh, our living Lord. Out of this experience flows the mission of the church which is at heart “evangelistic.” The good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ is told in deeds of compassion and justice. Proclamation of the Word impels the people out from the safety of the sanctuary into the wilderness of the world to assure that all will hear and see the good news.

What other church activities are there which find a direct connection with worship? Where do in worship do they link up?

1 comment:

  1. Sunday School! Our children join the adults in the worship service for the first 20-30 minutes then, after the Children's Theme Time, head off to Sunday school. Often the Children's theme is connected to both what they are learning in their SS curriculum and what we are doing in worship.

    Children's Theme time is great that way. It ALSO helps the adults present connect the dots.


Thanks for joining in the conversation!