The Ministry of Song 9 (Jesus, the Psalms and Me) 5

When Paul urges us in Colossians 3 to “let the Word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts,” he goes on to say that we’re to do that as we “make melody to the Lord in [y]our hearts” and as we sing and instruct each other in our praises. Now maybe it’s right that our noses should be in our hymnbooks when we’re singing; but it’s spiritually right that we should also have an eye to our brothers and sisters and be praying, “O Lord, sanctify these words I’m singing, in order that my brothers and sisters may be so instructed in their truth, as their lives to be comforted and transformed and centered again on Your glory, and blessed again in genuine fellowship that we enjoy with one another.”

And all of this because the Lord Jesus gathers us as God’s family, and then leads us in the singing of God’s praises.

——Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” (audio message)

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Revelation and Response

It should always happen in this house of God that the Lord speaks to us through His holy Word, and that we then speak to Him with our prayers and songs of praise.

—Martin Luther (inscribed on door into the sanctuary of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on opposite side of the building from the famous Wittenberg Door)

Table Manners

We are to discern the Lord’s body in one another. When the Lord’s Supper is being served, we should sit up straight, and look around the congregation, eyes open, up and down our row. It is true that we are to examine ourselves, but we are to do so in relation to one another. We must not curl up in a little ball, close our eyes, and try to establish a private, spiritual moment with Jesus.

—Douglas Wilson, A Primer on Worship and Reformation, 57

In It Together

The success of worship is not measured by its entertainment values, nor is its success the sole responsibility of its leaders. Protestant worship is a communal activity that requires the active engagement of the worshipers themselves. Persons who sit passively waiting for worship to happen to them are likely to be disappointed. Each Christian must practice the disciplines of meditation and prayer for him- or herself.

—Daniel Frankforter, Stones for Bread: A Critique of Contemporary Worship, 183

The Pastor and Worship (3)

As we said before, worship is primarily a corporate and incorporating event, incorporating not only diverse people but also diverse traditions, expectations, expressions, and motives. This broad, all-encompassing nature of the worship experience frustrates systematizers and writers of carefully circumscribed books about worship; but, for the pastor, it should be seen as one of the best reasons worship must be central to parish life.  Here, in that hour or so on Sunday morning, as well as at the funerals, weddings, and prayer meetings, our faith is expressed and formed, our innermost beliefs are transformed into outward acts and words, our past confronts the present, and our present leans forward into our future.

—William Willimon, Worship as Pastoral Care, 28

Come to the Table 10

There is no place for solitary communion. The Lord’s Supper is, by its very nature, a corporate event—a meal of the community, not the individual. This is not to discount the place of personal, private prayer and a personal, intimate fellowship with Christ. It is rather to insist that this meal is an encounter with both Christ and the people of God. It is an act by which we are in fellowship with Christ and with others, and the two dimensions, of necessity, always go together. It is appropriate though for the elements of the Lord’s Table to be taken to those who cannot be present with the community—those in prison or whose health makes it impossible for them to be present. But then the elements themselves come from the common gathering, and this is made clear both in the common event and in the smaller celebration. The second is derivative of the first.

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 55