"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sunday Worship: The Work of Man?

To wrap up the implications for worship of word and sacrament, we will learn one more concept.

Word of the day: "Gottesdienst"

You may have heard worship characterized as something along the lines of: "You need to give something in worship" or "worship is about giving something to God," or perhaps you have been told that wanting to 'get something' out of worship is wrong. Certainly, the congregant should and must act in worship, but there may be something else behind such statements.
Such statements may have a conception of worship primarily as man giving something to God. You can see such a focus in many of our song with titles begin with "I." Even if it is "I Give You Praise" or "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," many times, though all the music may include God, the subject of the verbs (the noun doing the action) in the songs is "I." God is the object of the actions of "I."

As we have seen, Scripture presents Word and Sacrament in a different light. The preached word is the divinely appointed means of the communication of the demands of the law and the answer to those demands in the gospel of Christ. Baptism is the work of God in extending the promises of the covenant. The Lord's Supper is the communication of the life of Christ to the partaker. If Sunday worship is centered around the means of grace, then our view of worship changes. God is the subject of the verbs, doing the action on us the objects.

Worship centered around Word and Sacrament sees the service on Sunday not as being primarily man's work but God's work. Some churches will call the service: "The Divine Service." This is perhaps well formulated in the name given to it by German Lutherans of "Gottesdienst" or "God's Work." We come to worship with empty hands to receive the gifts of God for the people of God. It is appropriate to come to the service to 'get something' provided the something is a word of grace from God. We come to hear the Gospel declared and the finished work of Christ.
We then certainly do actions towards God. What we give, thanksgiving and praise, are based on the solid foundation of the gifts of God, God's first initiative in moving towards us as He works in word and sacrament on each Lord's Day. The primary "actor" on Sunday is not us, but God. The Lord of the Sabbath works, as we rest.

Word of the day: "Gottesdienst"

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