Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Worship For Mission

I had a conversation the other day with a friend.  We were discussing the purpose of worship on Sundays, when we come together for word and sacrament.  I shared my disagreement with the idea of using that time of worship largely or primarily for evangelism.  That the time together is for the body of Christ, to confess our sins, hear his word and receive him in the bread and the wine.  It is a time for strengthening the body of Christ to go into the world, our neighborhoods and be Christ to the people we meet, to invite them into our lives.

Just last night, I was reading of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  I was struck by how Christ led the disciples in word and sacrament.
Luke 24
 13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles  from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Now, these disciples had had a very bad and confusing few days.  Their hoped for saviour had been crucified, yet there were rumors that he had risen.  They didn't know what to make of all that had happened, so they were going home.  But Jesus loves his disciples and won't let them stay in a state of confusion, so he gives them the word, his word, himself.  He helps them to understand.  Then he gives them himself, revealed by the breaking of the bread.  The disciple response isn't to go to bed deeply satisfied after their long journey.  No, their response is to go and tell.

Isn't that what we, the body of Christ should do?  Come together to find clarity and hope in God's word, let Christ reveal himself to us in the eucharist, so that we will be strengthened in wisdom and faith to share Christ with the world?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yeshua The Super Jew-100% Kosher

This provocative title is actually the name of the first of four talks to be given by Brian Kvasnica at St. John Lutheran Church on September 25 and 26.  I have not met Brian, but have heard rave reviews from many of my friends who have had the pleasure of his knowledge and understanding of Christianity's relationship with Judaism as he has guided them through Israel.  If you'd like to find out for yourself what could be the meaning behind such a title, come out this weekend and give him a listen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Yesterday, I stopped by to pay our car insurance at the local office.  The agent who I saw there, I hadn't seen since last November.  Early November.  As Olivia and I were entering through the doorway, the agent's face lit up and she asked where was my "baby on board" sign.  She didn't know that I had lost our baby just weeks after having seen her last.  I told her we had lost the baby and I could see the regret on her face immediately.  She told me how sorry she was.  I told her it was all right, that it had been tough, but that we were okay.  She explained again that she was so sorry.  What I then told her and what I hope she takes to heart is that it really is okay, that it is just so good that she remembered.  She remembered our baby.

The word remember is a particularly interesting word, suggesting more than merely a thought, but a bringing back together.  To re-member.  The Greek work for this is anamnesis.  When the church celebrates the Eucharist, this word, anamnesis, is used to describe what happens.  Christ is present.  Christ is remembered.

By faith we know that those who die in the Lord are not in fact dead, but are resting in Jesus.  What does this mean exactly when we remember our loved ones?  I am not sure, but am convinced it is more than a thought.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Liturgy and Life

I have been preparing to teach a class on the Christian Liturgy.  One of my main concerns as I work out how to present what I'm learning is how to break the liturgy down, to take it apart, without killing the mystery and life which it holds, such as what happens when one dissects a frog, leaving an understanding of systems but losing on understanding of its "frogginess", or as Bitzer from Hard Times, by Dickens, would understand a horse.

'Bitzer,' said Thomas Gradgrind. 'Your definition of a horse.'
'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.' Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
'Now girl number twenty,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'You know what a horse is.'

Perhaps the only way to prevent such a thing from happening is to participate.  Just as we would greatly increase our understanding of "frogginess" by observing frogs in their natural habitat  or of horses by living around them as did Sally Jupe, a.k.a., girl number twenty, and even more so by becoming a frog or a horse if that were possible, Christ invites us to participate in the divine, looking forward to the Heavenly banquet, we may partake of it in the here and now in the bread and the wine, because Christ himself is present.  Christ lives in us and we in him.  That is what prevents the liturgy from becoming a just a system or ritual or set of theories.