On Worship and the Sacraments

“In worship, God gathers us to reorient us as children of God, Christ meets us in Word and Sacrament to nourish our souls, and the Spirit renews us in our hope for the renewal of all things.” –Sue A. Rozeboom

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How should Sunday be spent?

worshipIt’s a question I’ve never really addressed on this blog, but every time I return home from church on any given Sunday, it’s one I ask myself.

I’m hardly a fundamentalist, as this blog would undoubtedly reveal.

And like most, I, too, find Sunday to be a special day.

But after church, when I return home, I find myself watching the same TV shows and movies that I’ve been watching all week.

Perhaps my inner tension should serve as a guide.

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Rachel Held Evans Returns to Church

58592Rachel Held Evans grew up in a conservative, evangelical, nondenominational church, and went to a conservative, nondenominational college, where one of her professors reportedly said, “You can believe the Bible or you can believe evolution, but you can’t believe both. You have to choose.”

After graduating from college and returning to her conservative, evangelical, and nondenominational roots, for Rachel, statements like the above became distracting,

“Evangelicalism gave me many gifts, but the ability to distinguish between foundational, orthodox beliefs and peripheral ones was not among them.  That recurring choice—between faith and science, Christianity and feminism, the Bible and historical criticism, doctrine and compassion—kept tripping me up like roots on a forest trail” (emphasis added).

For sure, Ms. Evans has been on a journey (her popular blog demonstrates this).  But it’s a journey that has taken her away from those early conservative, evangelical roots, which, according to her, “kept tripping me up like roots on a forest trail” (though she claims to remain evangelical and appreciates the knowledge of Scripture it has given her).

Ms. Evans now finds a home the Episcopalian church–a church known for its support of women leaders, the LGBT community, among other things.

According to the Christianity Today (CT) article, like many who grew up in low-church evangelical settings, Evans says she’s drawn to the Anglican-Episcopal tradition for, “the liturgy, the lectionary, the centrality of the Eucharist in worship, the Book of Common PrayerThe sacraments gave me the language to name all those things I see as worthy and valuable about the church” (This, I get).

And in the spirit of John Piper, who said farewell to Rob Bell after the release of Love Wins in 2011, the author of the CT piece, writes, “may the evangelical family respond to Evans’s joining the Episcopal Church with a sincere, ‘Fare Well, Rachel. Strength for the journey.'”

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When is your Church’s Liturgy not Enough?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunday’s worship service compelled this post.

Most of us, when we hear the term liturgy, we think the high church worship services of the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, etc.

But liturgy is simply a set or fixed way of doing a worship service.  So we may speak of a Baptist liturgy, a Pentecostal liturgy, and even a non-denominational church liturgy.

A church’s liturgy, at the end of the day, all comes down to how that church’s tradition has decided to appropriate the various elements of worship.  For example, when it comes to the Lord’s Table, from start to finish, how do they go about things?  Is their music? Are there special prayers offered?  Must it be an ordained minister, and so on?

Are there lit candles?

However, at the end of the day, whether high church or low church, the question really becomes, Are our liturgies enough?  Is God being glorified?  Are our souls being fed?  Are we being renewed? Are we leaving gathered worship with minds and hearts ready to turn the world upside down for King Jesus?  Are we ready to live countercultural lives?

And for those who think that the only truly liturgical worship services are those in our high churches, the same challenges remain, that are raised in the previous questions.

A church’s liturgy is also meant to transform lives.

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Rob Bell on the Resurrection

“To affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus is to affirm the goodness of all bodies–and that includes yours.” —Rob Bell

I assume by “all bodies” Rob Bell means all human bodies.

Or perhaps,rob-bell1

“All bodies” refers to all material bodies–human and non-human.

It is also true that when Jesus died he shed his blood to redeem all of creation as well, not just humans (Romans 8:20-21; cf. Colossians 1:20).

This aspect of incarnation theology may not fit with some, but I do believe we need to broaden our scope of the redemption of Jesus.

And ask, “Did Jesus just die for humans or for non-humans as well, namely, the creation?”

Against the docetic heresy of his day, Irenaeus is believed to have said that everything Jesus assumed of humanity he redeemed.

Remember, this must be understood against the docetists who were saying that Jesus ONLY appeared to be human.

Whether Rob Bell means human bodies and non-human beings or simply human bodies and not non-human bodies, “To affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus is to affirm the goodness of all bodies…”

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