A wonderful discovery regarding worship resources. I find encouragement from many places in the blog world and yesterday was an outstanding example. It was on a blog that I had not visited before (believe it or not) called “Stay on the Rock“, that turns out to be the blog of Lifewayworship.com. I don’t feel bad singing their praises since I have spoken several times of my appreciation for the worship resources of other denominational sources such as that of the United Methodist.

The sacrament of communion

What caught my attention first was the theme of the post: Worship at the communion table. For those that don’t already know, Lifeway is the publication arm of the Southern Baptist Convention of churches and is the largest supplier of protestant material. Many churches that are not Baptist use it as for resources.

The Baptist tradition as well as the larger evangelical church, has come under fire from those of the liturgical churches for a weak theology of worship by men the likes of J.I.Packer and John Stott, Anglicans, just to name a few. So you can imagine my delight to find someone in the inside of Lifeway worship team who is reading something outside the Baptist tradition like Robert Webber’s “Ancient-Future Worship”. The post let me know that the guys producing worship resources for the churches understand that the theology of the church is important. Just another example of how rich the different traditions are and that by being willing to consider what those outside our own limited tradition have to say can only enrich everyone.

I made a short comment on the post but I wanted to publicly say to the blogger and his team- “congratulations”, for their important contributions to the churches. If you visit the post, you will note at the bottom a link to a long list of church music deemed appropriate for the communion service including both traditional hymns and contempory choruses. Here again, the rich theology of the Lord’s Supper should dictate what is best appropriate to make this one of the most blessed experiences of our corporate life together.

So thank you Lifewayworship team for your faithfulness and for including some of this bloggers favorites such as “I Love Thy Kingdom”, “In Christ there is no east or west”, “One Day”, “The Wonderful Cross”, and “Come to the table”.

See my own post last year related to Communion

Getting ready for Next Sunday of Advent.

I hope some of you celebrated the first Sunday of Advent in your worship today. I was in a service where the Lectionary readings were not read as such, however the reading and the message was from the first twenty-five verses of Luke’s Gospel, chapter 1. This actually fits in with the emphasis for Second Sunday of Advent, so I thought I would go ahead and get up the Scriptures as we look forward to next week.

Announcing the Promised Messenger

Second Sunday of Advent (Dec.6) Announcing the Messenger of the Covenant!

 

Malachi 3:1-4 – The Prophet’s vision

Luke 1:68-79. – The Song of Zachariah

Philippians 1:3-11. – The Desired Result

Luke 3:1-6. – John the Baptist

Where do you typically look for “way-showers?” Where do you typically find the real ones?Luke locates the ministry of John the Baptist historically within the timelines of the Roman Empire and theologically in the prophecy of Isaiah: The winding and difficult pathways between Babylon and Jerusalem were about to be turned into a straight and level highway for returning exiles so that all could witness God’s salvation. John announced this message, and more besides (which we’ll see and hear next week) in a ministry that took him up and down the Jordan River valley. In so doing, he sought out a fairly remote wilderness area inhabited by forgotten people and “little” people rather than the “bright lights” of Jerusalem, fulfilling in this way his father Zechariah’s song.

Paul gives joyous thanks for his partnership with the church in Philippi. The graciousness and power he has experienced with them gives him every confidence that God will finish God’s work in them to present them blameless on the day of the return of Christ, “having produced the harvest of righteousness” (verse 11). Paul’s “end-time” hope for them, and by extension for all Christians, is for all of them, as God’s people, to “serve God in holiness and righteousness all their days,” a living sign of the Promised One in their midst.

How is the “messianic” harvest of righteousness being cultivated, cared for, and gathered in where you are?

Zechariah’s song identifies John the Baptizer as the foretold messenger of the Lord with a substantially broader mission than fixing the ritual anomalies and the broken spirituality in the priesthood Malachi had identified. A descendent of David was coming who would re-constitute whole people and save them from their enemies so they could worship and serve God in holiness and righteousness all their days. The ministry of the way-shower would prepare the “mighty Savior’s” way by calling for repentance and announcing forgiveness of sins to all, even those in “darkness and the shadow of death.”

 A century or more after the restoration of the city and the temple in Jerusalem, the word of the Lord through the prophet declares the coming of “my messenger” (Malachi, in Hebrew) who would radically purify the temple priesthood. How and where are clergy and lay leaders being purified where you are?

(comments from The General Board of Disciplehip of the UMC)

FIRST SUNDAY of ADVENT

Around the world in many different traditions of faith, Christians this Sunday will all be worshipping in keeping with an accepted calender that designates it as the beginning of a new liturgical year. Literally millions of Christians will be “united” in spirit and that makes me very happy. Of course that does not include all Christians and by no means all traditions of the Christian Faith and no you won’t find this anywhere in the Bible. For instance the Orthodox Churches celebrate a different calender and then there are many non-liturgical churches that do not follow any christian calender.

LITURGY: What do I mean by the word?  liturgy

 Not infrequently in Christianity, a distinction is made between “liturgical” and “non-liturgical” churches based on the elaboration and/or antiquity of the worship, but this obscures the universality of public worship as a religious phenomenon. Thus, even the open or waiting worship of Quakers is liturgical, since the waiting itself until the spirit moves individuals to speak is a prescribed form of Quaker worship, sometimes referred to as “the liturgy of silence.” Typically in Christianity, however, the term “the liturgy” normally refers to a standardized order of events observed during a religious service, be it a sacramental service or a service of public prayer.

As a religious phenomenon, liturgy is a communal response to the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance.

I was not always aware of this reality simply because I was not brought up in a liturgical church. But over the years as I have become more and more aware of the other faith traditions, this one has greatly enriched my understanding of the universal christian family on earth. It’s a good thing; one of my sons is an ordained minister in a liturgical church and as a Chaplain in the military is recognized with a “liturgical” classification in contrast to non-liturgical Chaplains.

Most liturgical congregations also follow the Lectionary as a common source of prescribed Scripture readings for each Sunday of the Year insuring that there is a world-wide harmony on any given Sunday if not on the theme of the worship service, then at least in the Scriptures being considered.

As I looked at the orientations that are on the internet for the new Lectionary year and Advent Sundays, one especially caught my eye and I heartily recommend it to anyone who might want to join a large part of the Christian family in the season of celebrating in a special way, the Incarnation Event-the birth of Jesus, God’s anointed redeemer. The site is the worship page over at the United Methodist Church.

Worship well as you begin the New Year. adventseason