reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thoughts about worship. Again.

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 6 comments
Ok. Was doing some seminar stuff for our lovely group of musicians at Christ Church Liverpool yesterday on this whole worship thing. (I blogged on this before - after reading "Stop Dating the Church".) I was much helped by the Blue Fish's excellent notes on this - so thanks Bishy.

Now basically I said, church is about encouraging each other, not specifically meeting with God. In the Old testament the people gathered to meet with God on one-off occasions - now we are permanently and really in heaven with Christ, brought to God and secure in him because of the death of Christ. Church becomes a means for us to encourage one another to hold on to these promises, address issues of sin in each other's lives and hear God's word.

Ok - so God ministers to us through his word, we minsiter to each other through our gifts.

Here's the thing I've been pondering since though - and sorry music team if this is confusing for you, I don't mean to cloud the issue. But gifts are spiritual gifts, right? They are the outworking of the Holy Spirit who is God in the life of the believer. What's more, the Bible makes a big deal about the fact that God can't be seen, but some of his character can be experienced through the church. I thinkthat's what the apostle John means when he writes:
"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

So, in fact, if I go to church and I encourage other believers and they do everything they can do to encourage me in the power of the Holy Spirit, and hence God's love is being seen and experienced in a way that I can't experience it when I am on my own - well maybe I am "meeting with God" in more than just the "God ministers to us through his word" type of way.

True, this is miles away from the individualistic and trancelike "manifest presence of God" I was encouraged to expect at the mass meetings of my youth when we thought we were provoking God's glory to fall "as on that ancient day". Nevertheless, if we are going to say that God dwells by his Spirit in the church (not just the individual believer) then I think I should perhaps expect to meet Him more manifestly when the church is together.

Just to clarify - this is not, I don't think, mysticism - that God is somehow mystically "more present" to me in church. Rather that as we genuinely are church together, God's presence amongst us as his people is shown as we serve each other in the power of the Spirit. Hmmmm. Maybe we need to have another session music bods so you can help me clear up my position on this!