Monday, July 2, 2007

WHAT is a worship service?

Joe wrote some very interesting things in his comment on the last post. It deserves some discussion if only because it said some things much more clearly than I did.

He pointed out that a list such as this one comes across as being nit-picky. True. But he also pointed out that it is clear that there is a single problem at the root of it all. The central question, then, is this:

    "WHAT is a worship service? Why do we have these things at all -- just what is it we are DOING?
If he doesn't mind, I'm going to copy most of his comment here, as it makes for an excellent post.

    Historically the heart of corporate worship a la King is COMMUNION, the eucharist. This is what Jesus instituted as his family Feast of Remembrance, a celebration of The People of God, this nation of kings and priests. "They will be mine" says YHWH "in the day when I assemble my treasure." [Mal 3:17, JoeBV]

    Everything about "formal" assembly of The People should emanate from that central fact. It seems to me that "the gathering" should last about the whole day, and include cooking, cleaning up, distributing goods, planning, deciding, singing and praying and constantly reconciling differences thru cooperation in all these processes. Most of all, it's not a mere abstraction, it's real life. Not something on a stage.

    So I say those 15 scathing theses are about 80 short of a reformation. I say one must start over from scratch and reconceive corporate worship entirely. The Jesus feast these days is reduced to a vestige from which most meaning is stripped. We forget that everything from Jn 13-17 happens AT the Lord's table: footwashing, prophesying, kingdom scheming, and theologizing. And it is all on a personal scale, not a mass production. The way we do it nowadays--a presentation that 90% of the people just come and watch--is a pretty bizarre notion of how to celebrate God's Gathering of the Select People (the ekklesia, the Church.)

    Dare I say it? We need to quit going to worship and start going to CHURCH!
The central theme here is community. Actually, that's been a central theme within our little "circle of friends" for years now. How can the church get back to being a community? Is it even possible in our 21st century, suburbian lifestyles?

Many of the things within a normal "worship service" are good things. Singing to God, the reading of scripture, preaching and teaching, the rememberance of Christ through communion. So, on the surface, things don't look half bad. But where is the community? How do we do all of this on a personal scale, and not as a mass production?

I love to listen to Darin and Joe talk about these things, but too often we talk in vague and abstract terms. Sure, we are idealists. We may know what we WANT.

But my main question, each time, is HOW. How do we accomplish this? How do we get there?


void77 said...

"How do we get there?" Well, initially, I thought the only way was to leave and start something new. But I'm wondering now (based on late-night Monday conversation) if it may actually be possible to develop the community we're seeking within the "walls" of a larger organization. Something bigger than a small group... a true "church-within-a-church" so to speak. I wonder what that would look like?

scott said...

What would it look like? Good question. Like usual, we have an abundance of ideas (the WHAT), but a general lack of "getting there" (the HOW).

I've been thinking lately about how badly we really honor and make holy "the Sabbath." To remedy that, and to go along with some of the things Joe said, it would be neat to have a 24-hour time period every weekend -- maybe sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday -- where we were all free to gather and do many of the things he wrote... Namely, "cooking, cleaning up, distributing goods, planning, deciding, singing and praying and constantly reconciling differences thru cooperation in all these processes." You could come and spend a few hours here or there, it wouldn't necessarily be structured. You could still go to a worship service on Sunday morning.

I don't know, that was one thought. Of course, you need a place to do that, like a community center. Or a COMMUNE CENTER!

And we're right back to the communal living idea. :-)