Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Does Worship Look Like - one more thing

Sometimes I think in Candy's enthusiasm for her own beliefs she Misjudges, Mischaracterizes or just simply Misses other valid perspectives. Her post on How Christians Worship is one such time.

While I think everything on her list (lifting of hands, praying, Blessing the name of the Lord, Bowing, laying on of hands, singing praises, dancing etc.) can be part of worship, these are not the only ways to worship. How did Jesus worship?  Jesus was Jewish.  In a congregation he worshiped as traditional Jews did. But the bible also tells us of a number of times when Jesus retreated into private, quiet, personal, contemplative prayer and certainly He teaches us that there is a place for that as well.

So in other words while a high spirited, joyful, high energy type of worship is appropriate, there is also a place for the quiet and the sublime.  It is not an either/or situation.  Both have their place.

Lastly I'd like to share this narrative of what early worship looked like in the early church.  This was written in the 2nd century AD by St. Justin Martyr

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

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Barbara C. said...

Very interesting and amazing post, Kelly.

My only question about the last paragraph is how it relates to the idea of "observing the Sabbath". For if Christian worship service was set for Sunday because it was the first day of creation rather than the day of rest, then would Sunday really be the Sabbath. The usual understanding is that in order to properly observe the Sabbath one must attend worship service and rest from any unnecessary work (as God did at the end of creation).

Do you have any links or references handy that discuss this more? This may be something I want to look into more on my own.

Barbara C. said...

Sorry, Elena, I read the post before this one first which was written by Kelly and I think I had a brain fart. I definitely want to give credit where credit is due so...

Very interesting and amazing post, Elena. So sorry for the goof.

Kelly said...

I agree, that's a great section of Justin Martyr.