A summary of The Well, led by John van de Laar
For more information and resources see John’s website at www.sacredise.com
What difference does worship make to you? To the world? Are we wasting our time spending hours in church on a Sunday, or are we being changed and, in turn, changing the world we live in? Take a survey and very often the church and Christians are considered to be hypocrites.
Brian McLaren speaks of The Kingdom of God and how Jesus did not come in order to teach us how to get into heaven, but rather to teach us how to bring God’s kingdom here on earth. What we do in the sanctuary is designed to change us.
The Sanctuary (Inner Journey)
The aim of worship is to have an inner encounter with the living God. We do this through the use of various worship elements that have been passed down through the years: praise, confession, intercession, and the sacraments. The style in which we ‘do’ worship will vary according to custom and preference, so some churches will be loud, some quiet; in some churches the Eucharist will be celebrated every week and in others only once a month. Style of worship seems to cause the most debate and argument which is wrong because the most important aspect of worship is the Inner Encounter and so all our energy should be focussed on experiencing this in the best possible way.
When we get our emphasis right (Inner Encounter rather than Style!) worship can transform us in four ways:
Our context moves from a human world view to a Kingdom of God world view. As Brian McLaren taught, being a citizen of the Kingdom radically changes how we look at wealth, or the lack of it, success, and even nature. These things are God’s and therefore need to be loved as He would love them and care for them.
Our time moves from being driven by chronos to kairos. Chronos is the time of the clock – it is linear and constant and we are all governed by it to a greater or lesser degree. While it is important to be good stewards of our time we need to also be aware that there is the God-appointed time (kairos.) This is always the right time: in the fullness of time – kairos – Jesus was born. This idea of time has an eternal element to it and is not so fleeting as chronos. We begin to view our lives as part of a much bigger work to which we are linked through our worship.
Our idea of space moves from dualism to integration. All space becomes sacred, not only churches or things specifically called ‘Christian’. A church in Hawaii saw a space that had become a dump yard and they tried to look at it through the eyes of Christ. They removed all the junk, carved the dead trees into works of art and named it Sacred Space. We can do this as we look at our world as sacred and appreciate the potential beauty in even the less beautiful spots; as we see the potential goodness and renewal of even the most broken of people.
Our connections, or relationships, move from being ego or ethno-centric to world-centric. We are very good at sticking together, like with like and mistrusting anyone different to us. Our worship will change us to see all people as God’s people, even those who practise a different religion or spirituality to us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What is the primary context for my life – human or kingdom?
To what extent am I driven by chronos? How open am I to kairos?
How easily do I integrate the secular and the sacred?
How inclusive or exclusive is my view of people?
How can I allow my glory to reflect God’s glory more?
The Street (Outer Journey)
Jesus gives an etiquette lesson, saying that the places at the head of the table should not all be reserved for the rich and famous. They should be willing to sit lower down the pecking order and allow others to sit near the top. From the bottom you get a much broader and more honest view of the world as Rose did in the movie Titanic. In her first class world on the beautiful ship she is kept closeted away, bound by the restrictions of her class and status. When she meets Jack and he takes her down into steerage she gets a full view of the joy and interaction of individuals and families; she also sees something of the injustice and the suffering they undergo by virtue of the fact that they are poor and less regarded by the world. Her world view is broadened and she is able to use this knowledge to become a better person.
Our worship teaches us humility before God and others and also the importance of sacrifice and service to God and to our fellow man.
Worship has two significant movements. Firstly, we should carry the streets into the sanctuary when we come to church. Church is not an escape from real life – go to the movies if you want that. Our time in church should be engaging us with our world and opening us to what God would say. This attitude is evidenced in the prophets (Amos 5:21 – 24) and in the psalms (Ps. 10).
Secondly, worship is carrying the sanctuary out into the world. As we leave the church our worship does not stop and we have influence over a much broader spectrum than we may even know. True worshippers will be characterised by their intense love of life (John 10:10 – abundant life) and their opposition to death, in all its forms and wherever it is found. This last being a commitment to justice and integrity
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What are my common expectations when I come to worship? Are these about escape or engagement?
How can I be more intentional about bringing the world into the sanctuary?
How can I allow my worship to make me more of a lover of life?
How can I allow my worship to make me more of a resister of death and committed to integrity?
In conclusion then there are three passages of scripture to hold together:
Matthew 27: 36 – 40 – The Greatest Commandment. To love God and your neighbour with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
2 Corinthians 3: 18 – we behold God and are transformed to like Christ.
John 10: 10 – Fully Alive!
How can you journey out from worship more intentionally? Do at least one thing this week.