Thursday, August 02, 2007

Church in the World; church and the world 1

Especially related to my recent visits to churches where I'm not routinely involved, besides the discrete blog I'm writing for each of them, originally I wanted to write at least one blog partly explaining my insights and reactions, but the blog got so long, in the interests of my blogs actually getting read, I've broken it up into three. For starters, from September 2004 – but blogged later – here are some paraphrased chunks of ¶ 3 and ¶ 4 from the Mission Study Notes I wrote for one of my "usual" congregations (close enough to the original to blockquote my own words):
Worship, especially Sunday worship – models a vision of and becomes a microcosm of the redeemed, restored, resurrected – Eastered – community, as the HS prepares and enables us for service during the following week. The structure and content of much so-called "contemporary" worship—a style actually popularized during the 1970s—has grown out of the revivalist, frontier and Pentecostal traditions rather than the churches of the Reformation and their antecedent Roman Catholic liturgical tradition, and this type of worship carries with it the burden of its own human decision theology that does not align with God's Self-revelation in scripture and in Jesus Christ. The Reformers insisted in proclaiming God's faithful Presence and God's gracious saving deeds rather than human imaginings of a do-it-yourself/ourselves project. Frontier religion also breaks continuity with the centuries-long historical praxis of the church bodies that evolved from the Geneva and Wittenberg Reforms in terms of their recovering and restoring the early church's unvarying convention of keeping Word and Sacrament tightly yoked together. In fact, just as the late Medieval Church, in losing the Word had lost the essence of the Sacraments, some of the post-Reformation churches, in jettisoning regular sacramental practice and understanding lost the essence of the Word, the mystery of the hidden and elusive God who nonetheless self-reveals, but principally in paradoxical ways, particularly in the common "stuff" of everyday creation.
In April 2006 I blogged Emerging Church, emerging churches; this time I need to blog some thoughts on liturgy. My blogging is full of disclaimers, and one of them at this time maybe *should* be my love of well-planned, well-paced and well-performed liturgical worship, anywhere in the moderate range from fairly low to somewhat high church, which doubtless partly contributes to my dismay with a songs-and-sermon format better suited to something scheduled and described as "Bible Study." The Mainline Churches struggle with membership count, worship attendance, styles and content of mission and evangelism and almost everything else, but abandoning the historical worship of God's people isn't the way to go.

From the nascent Israel's worship in the wilderness, the liturgies of God's people have recounted in word and action the story of God's faithfulness in their lives and recollected ways God shaped and formed the identity of the people of God along with God's call to the people to be His Presence in the world along with God's graciously enabling and fulfilling that call in the power of the HS. Worship forms a microcosm of our daily, lively encounter with a Holy God, Who calls us to be Holy as He is! The Church gathers as the assembly that already has experienced its first death and second birth, the community that thrives in the reign of life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The barely formed churches we hear about in the epistles (I'm thinking of Corinth as especially instructive) were way different from the over-formed institutional Church Luther wrote and spoke against; in this 21st Century, the church again has become over-insitutionalized, over-professionalized and over-rationalized; I'll say more later in Blog 2.

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