Get Out of the Way

A concert audience does not come to watch the conductor but to listen to the music; a church congregation should not come to watch or hear the preacher [or worship leader], but to listen to God’s Word. The function of the conductor is to draw the music out of the choir or orchestra, in order that the audience may enjoy the music; the function of the preacher is to draw the Word of God out of the Bible, in order that the congregation may receive with joy. The conductor must not come between the music and the audience; the preacher [or worship leader] must not come between the Lord and His people. We need the humility to get out of the way. Then the Lord will speak, and the people will hear Him; the Lord will manifest himself, and the people will see Him; and, hearing His voice and seeing His glory, the people will fall down and worship Him.

—John Stott, Between Two Worlds, 328

In Remembrance of Him

Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.

—Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, 744

Jesus and the Church

1. Jesus is the new end-time Adam.
2. Jesus is the new end-time Israel.
3. Jesus is the new end-time Davidic King.
4. Jesus is the new end-time Priest.
5. Jesus is the new end-time Prophet.
6. Jesus is the new end-time Teacher of the Law.
7. Jesus is the new end-time Temple.
8. The church is all these things in its union with Christ.

—Gregory K. Beale, “Finding Christ in the Old Testament,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 63: (2020): 49-50

Depth and Mystery

Any lasting cease-fire in these worship wars is not likely to emerge from a resolution of the so-called culture wars which feed them, or from large-scale conversions of taste, or from carefully buttressed historical arguments about ancient liturgical precedents. Finally, such a cease-fire can only issue from the depth and mystery of the gospel which Christians proclaim. Christian worship is strongest when it is integrally and self-consciously related to the person and work of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. The study of Christian worship is most helpful to Christian communities when it demonstrated how this has happened in the past and how it might happen in the future in more profound ways.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), Page 304-305

Through the Spirit

The question may well be asked how it can be that the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ can possibly come to us as Word of God through the instrumentality of some minister in the pulpit…this is precisely the same question as to how the Word of God made flesh can come to us in water, bread, and wine through the instrumentality of some minister at font or table.  The two problems are no different, and for both Scripture has an identical answer: whether Christ comes to us from pulpit, font, or table, he does so through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 203

Worship in the Spirit

Christian worship is inspired by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, directed by the Spirit, purified by the Spirit and bears the fruit of the Spirit. Christian worship is Spirit-filled. . . . It is the Holy Spirit who purifies our worship by his continual work of sanctification. By purifying the worshipers the worship is made pure. When we worship, having our minds enlightened by the Spirit, our lives changed by the Spirit, our wills moved by the Spirit, and our hearts warmed by the Spirit, then our worship is transformed from being a mere human work into being a divine work.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 219-220

Worship as a Window

Think of worship as a window. . . . The temptation we face as worship leaders is that we will spend so much energy dressing this window, repairing this window, or cleaning this window that we have no time to look through it.

Bread, wine, water, music are not just to look at, but to look through.

—John Witvliet, “On Divine Glory: An Expanded Conversation on the Conference Theme,” (Calvin Symposium on Worship Jan. 2007), 2