Friday, December 14, 2007

Worship Come to Its Senses: Part Five

"What sense of hope does Christian worship offer?" asks Saliers, to begin his final chapter in Worship Come to Its Senses. He suggests that sometimes we confuse hope with optimism. Being nice and happy are not signs of hope. This is not only a problem with fellowship with people but can be mistaken for hope in preaching and praying as well. If all we do in worship is comfort and console and never awaken a desire for the promises of God, then we only present half of the Gospel. Likewise, if we only present a self-help Gospel on how to improve our lives now, and don't address our dependance on Grace then the Gospel is being undermined.

Remembering the hope by praising, thanking, confessing, and interceding is at the hear of Christian life and Christian worship. The present hope is that we are crossing over from bondage to freedom, and from death to life! The laments that we talked about earlier, both done communally and individually assume that human hope is ultimately rooted in God alone. The act of crying out to someone in lament points to the fact that we hope to be heard.

Saliers says, "Christian hope is acquired as a gift in the process of living and worshiping in a community shaped over time by the whole story of God and the world, of nature and history, of heaven and earth together."

There are two kinds of hope for Christians. There is hope beyond this world, and hope for this world. If we only focus on hope beyond this world, we will lose sight of the hope we have now and we will miss the grace of God at the hear of the Church's mission. And if we focus solely on the hope for this world and never on the hope of sitting in the Throne with Jesus that is promised to us in Revelation 3-5, then we will be barren and unfruitful.

Henri Nouwen once said, "Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises and not just according to our wishes." Waiting for hope is not passive, it is active! Saliers tells the story of a woman who skeptically went to a healing service with a friend. They took the Eucharist and then went to specific places where they were anointed for healing of the body, memory, relationships, and inner turmoil. She described it as a profound act of hope. She now says of the Lord's supper that, "[it] has taken on the meaning of healing to me now, I never knew that before." We have somewhere to take pain and hope. Jesus Christ.

Worship then, is the continual rehearsal of God's hope for us.



Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Bubbie!
Having been to NYC several times, I forget that this is your first adventure there! YES! There are people everywhere! But remember, that God is everywhere there too...and the Spirit is within you constantly leading you to where you should go and what you should say. So although it may feel overwhelming and even lonely amongst this throng of people, you are never alone. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6) You are in my daily prayers, precious son! I am so proud of you--that you have stepped out in faith, not knowing what the call will bring, but knowing that He who has called is greater than anyone or anything in this world, and when He calls, He will always equip and provide in all things. I can't wait to hear what eternal good will come from your service. Call anytime--early or late! I love you so much! Mama