f The Wittenberg Door: Why do We Go to Worship?

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why do We Go to Worship?

Feeling sorry for yourself helps no one!","Self pity turns a generous impactful person into a self-driven recluse", "The more you allow self pity to settle in your heart, it becomes poisonous to your purpose","We must process all personal pain through Christ", "Take back the Power of your worth from negative influences and give it to Christ in you!"

The above comments were posted on Facebook by a former pastor of mine (from my Pentecostal days). He offers them as a summary of his Sunday sermon. I think they reflect one of the issues faced by the church: What is the purpose of the church service?

Back in my misspent youth in the wastelands of Pentecostalism, the church service was where we were “schooled to rule, and trained to reign”; it was where we gathered to battle demons and to proclaim our victories; and it was where we named and claimed the blessings that God owed us—In other words, the service was for us and for our activities.

As we have seen with Joel Olsteen, and with the pastor cited above, facets of Pentecostalism have morphed into a self-help, live your best life now self-love-fest. Of course, your average Evangelical church isn’t this extreme, but the question of what the service is to be about still remains; and without carefully considering the answer, we might find ourselves listing towards the dazzling smile and finely quaffed hair of the local self-help guru, who is all too willing to tell us what our itching ears want to hear.

Michael Horton considers the question of why we go to church over at The Whitehorse Inn blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Far deeper than instruments and music styles, this divide is the real one. Historically at least, Reformed and Lutheran churches believed that the Triune God is the primary actor in the public service. That’s one reason it was called “divine service”: the Father, in Christ, by the Spirit, serving his people with his good gifts. We find it referred to as “the divine service” routinely in churches of the Reformation over much of their history.

Drawing on the biblical view of the public service as a covenantal event, Reformed churches have understood the Triune God as the primary actor. If the covenant of grace is based on God’s unchangeable promise, with Christ as its mediator, then the public service is where this covenant is established and extended. Here the risen Lord of the covenant assembles his people to bless, convict, absolve, instruct, guide, and send them out into the world as “a kingdom of priests to our God” (Rev 5:9). The key moments in this covenantal event are God’s speech, baptism, and Communion—in each case, God being the actor. The very media themselves indicate that we are recipients of the action.

You can read the entire article here.

--The Catechizer

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