A Life of Communion

The prime purpose of the incarnation, in the love of God, is to lift us up into a life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God.

—James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, 32


Advent Supper

We should not think of the Eucharist not so much as Christmas—as if the Son were born again in bread—but instead think about it instead in terms of Advent. This table marks a triple Advent: It celebrates the past coming of the Lord; it is the coming of the Lord; and it looks ahead to the coming of the Lord. We commemorate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; we feed on Him by the Spirit; we proclaim the Lord’s death until He come.

When we view it as an Advent meal, we see that this Supper is about Jesus’ absence as well as His presence; it’s about the future as well as the present. It is a present feast, a feast we celebrate because the Lord has come. But it is not yet a full banquet, because the Lord is still to come.

—Peter Leithart

Giving Thanks (3): “Saying Grace”

We receive God’s Grace through the Word and we return to God in thanksgiving the Grace that we have received through the Word.  Grace (eucharis) is what we receive.  Thanksgiving (eucharistia) is the Grace that we give back to the Father.

—David W. Torrance, “The Word of God in Worship,” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 1 (1983):11-16

Giving Thanks (2)

In the case of the God of the universe, such possibility of return [reciprocation for a favor bestowed] dissipates, as no human beings can offer anything in return that can do justice to the gift received. The only proper response, then, is praise and worship. In describing divine-human encounter, therefore, thanksgiving and praise understandably merge and become the one and only proper and response to God who is the source of all power and goodness.

In short, to offer thanks to God is to live a life of worship.

—David W. Pao, Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme, 28, 164

Off on the Right Foot

The opening lines of worship reveal much about the congregation’s notions of what worship is supposed to be and do. Just as the first minute can set the tone for a sports game, a business meting, a job interview, or a musical performance, so the opening words of a worship service communicate expectations that will influence worshipers’ experience of the whole service. Think about these opening words, and imagine what is being communicated in each case about what worship is:

“Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” (lyrics to an opening song)

Good morning, and welcome to worship!

There’s plenty of room up front:

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We’re going to start now, so a bit of quiet please.

Hey, good morning.  I said good morning! Welcome to Vanguard Church. There seems to be a lot of energy in the room. Let’s start off by standing and singing “You Are Worthy.”

Grace to you, and peace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(For the whole list of questions and to read worship reports, visit http://www.shipoffools.com/Mystery/index.html.)

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 48