Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Worship wrangle

There is a long history of wrangling over the word 'worship' in Sydney Anglican circles. Based on the New Testament's use of worship language to describe all-of-life ethical living before the Lord, some want to squeeze 'worship' out of our vocabulary for our meetings.
Many have questioned this dichotomy, and what it does for the church gathering.(most notably David Peterson). I'm interested to see what it has done for the ethics of the people who go to 'no worship' church meetings.
There are elements of a corporate meeting such as the de-centering adoration of God, the specific attention to the presence and story of God, the recognition of the work of God in others, the declaring of our identity in Christ, which have important ethical consequences.
My hunch is that as we have devalued worship on Sundays, we have also devalued our life as worship. That is, instead of saying to Christians, 'you are the temple of the living God', we have simply noted the destruction of the physical Temple. Instead of saying 'the whole of life should reflect this gathering', we have settled for, 'this gathering should reflect the rest of our lives'. So we have church services where we don't bother reading much scripture because, hey, we don't read it in the rest of the week either. We have church services where the Lords supper is entirely horizontal and communal, because we don't remember Jesus death or acknowledge his presence any other time we eat during the week.
My hunch also is that if we have kick-ass Sundays, it will reshape our congregations desires and perception of the world and God's mission in it, it will change people's lives to give glory to God in the rest of the week.