Would you like to read more than stories of our kids? Visit the other blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What about our services?

Continuing our discussion, Eric asks the following questions regarding Christ as the ethos, logos, and pathos of the church:
I agree that Christ is our everything, but what about our services? How do we translate this abstract discussion into a viable order of service that engages people at an emotional level? Are there standards? Where are they? How do we know if they are truly universal?
It's because of questions like these that I've been hammering on the incarnation of Christ so much.

Eric, there's a good chance you're going to hate this answer, but there are universal standards for Christ's engagement with individuals in congregational worship. They cross all cultural boundaries. They meet people wherever they are emotionally. They're called the sacraments.

Despite all it's failings, the Roman Catholic church is a good example. In masses given in every nation and tongue, in many times and places, faithful Catholics receive holy communion. Sometimes these masses are accompanied with vast orchestras playing along with modern arrangements of the liturgy. At other times, all of the worship is done acapella, because no one is available to play music. In all places, Christ's body and blood is present in bread and wine.

I know this probably rails against your belief of communion as an ordinance, and trust me... I've been there. But you've already agreed with us that Christ -- the living and active son of God -- should be the center of all our worship.

For you, maybe saying "Christ is our ethos, logos, and pathos," still sounds too abstract. But remember the book of Hebrews, where we're told that Christ is our new High Priest. For the ancient Jews, the priest was the primary worship leader. For Christians, nothing has changed, because we have Christ fully present with us when Word is preached and sacrament administered (see this post of mine).

Christ has bound himself to means which exist in the physical realm. Sacraments exist within time and place. And through the mystery of the incarnation, Christ exists within them. The preaching of the Word is spoken into time as sound waves that fall onto our ears, and apprehended by the Holy Spirit, and Christ is the Word made flesh. The bread is real bread, placed into our mouths, and the real flesh of Christ. The wine is real wine, washing over our tongues, and the real blood of Christ.

If you're uncomfortable with this, it's easy to understand why. I was for years. It sounds so gritty, down to earth... so here and now. But reread John 6, and let it sink into an open heart.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world... Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.