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

A small, insignificant meeting in Madison County, Kentucky.

Sunday evening, a small group of us met together with a special guest, Dr.John H. Armstrong, President of ACT3 Ministries.( see previous post- Equipping Leaders for Unity). It was a very informal time of admittance into an intimate and personal audience with our guest who spoke to us about many experiences in the past as well as his forthcoming book. As if to highlight what we experienced, one of those present closed with a prayer of thanksgiving and intercession for this servant of God, after reading from this text of Holy Scripture:

8 “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” (Zechariah 4)

John has written at least twelve books over the years; all about his three passions: Christ, Holy Scripture, and Christ’s Church. He has made significant contributions to the churches, advocating the celebration of unity and the relentless pursuit for greater understanding of Christians for traditions other than their own . 

John Armstrong's new book (Zondervan- March 2010)

John Armstrong's new book (Zondervan- March 2010)

 Among John’s greatest gifts to the church at large, are the books in which he served as the general editor:” The Compromised Church” (1998),”The Glory of Christ” (2002), “Understanding Four Views on Baptism” (2007), and “Understanding Four Views on The Lord’s Supper” (2007). In each of these books, John brings his own wealth of knowledge of the historical churches and their doctrines as the context for authors presenting particular views on key issues of the Christian Church. His introduction serves to set the purpose and focus of the dialogue and introduce the featured contributors. Then following the presentations, John has a concluding chapter, summarizing the theme and suggesting lessons for all to be edified. Then he adds a bibliography of resources for further study. I realize that not all Christians and even leaders are ready to benefit from such contributions, but some of us are indebted to John for greatly enhancing our understanding of the family of Christ in all of her diversity.
Sometimes, the greatest gems for me personally have come from the “appendix” where additional quotes are included. In his book on the Lord’s Supper, I am finding some real treasures. I conclude with one from Emil Brunner:
“Why did Jesus command the observation of this rite? He did not give his disciples any other similiar instructions about divine worship. Why this? Is it not sufficient to preach and believe his gospel, the gospel of his atoning death? Why this ceremony in our churches?
For a long time I asked myself this question. . .without finding the right answer, until the answer sprang to my mind form this text (I Corinthians 10:16-17): we must note the dual meaning of the phrase ‘body of Christ’. On the one hand it refers to the body broken for us on the cross of Golgotha; this is symbolized or figuratively expressed in the broken bread, just as the outpoured wine represents the blood of Christ outpoured for us on the cross. That is the usual interpretation which we are familiar with from our confirmation instruction. It is correct insofar as it goes, but it is incomplete. For the body of Christ means in the New Testament something else: the church. The latter is the body of Christ because Christians are incorporated into the eternal Christ by faith and the Holy Spirit. Thus our text says: ‘ We who are many, are one body’. There arises from us, who are a multiplicity of individuals, a unity, something whole and cohesive, kneeded together.”
Brunner goes on to say what I firmly believe is the missing function in most celebrations of the Lord’s Table: “What is effected through the common participation in the atoning death of Jesus Christ is the unity of the church. . . a miracle does take place in that those individuals who formerly were their own lord and master now are ruled by the one Lord, and to form a manifold of separate individuals, each living and caring for themselves, there arises a unity, one body, of which each believer is a member and Jesus Christ the Head, controlling and guiding all.”
Can anything be more central than this when we come together to eat the bread and drink the wine? Of course Jesus the Christ, the Head of the Body himself, is in our midst reminding us all that He is the New Humanity and we are participants by virtue of His work in us constituting the unity which He controls and directs-we are celebrating the fruit and travail of His sacrifice on the cross which is the Body of Christ. And we will faithfully do this until He returns with the future consumation and glorification of what is now still under construction.
Thank you John for taking the time to share yourself and your passions and vision with us. It truly will be a night to remember for all of us present.