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Teresa Stricklen
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My friend Tony Youlton wrote me the following: "I've heard of a church in Jamaica whose call to worship involves the whole church walking through the village ringing bells and singing praises, calling people out of their homes to come and worship the risen Lord." How cool is that? Maybe that's just for Easter, but still . . . WOW!
"Let us receive the offering"???? I'm with you, Mike: GRRRRR. The curmudgeon will be watching how we're handling the offering. Great post, too, Geoff. Sometimes facing God is hardly a cheerful affair. "A call to face the reality of God" --that's nicely put. Because the reality is that God is beyond what we can even imagine, let alone put into words.
Yes, as the Book of Common Worship says it, "Worship begins with God. God takes the initiative and calls us into being. In the name of Christ we answer God's call and assemble as the community of faith" (BCW, 34). This implies that God has called us all to assemble together so that the call to worship is actually is the prompting of the Spirit to gather with other Christians. The call to worship thus precedes the service, in which case “Opening Sentences” makes sense. I wonder if the way in which we begin the worship service conveys this notion, though. Maybe, after announcements, we should Maybe we should begin with something like, “The Almighty God has already called you to this place at this time to meet the living Lord Jesus Christ. Let us listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to enter into God’s presence together.” Then there’s silence for personal prayer, which may need prompting with a printed preparatory prayer. Some of the best prayers in the Book of Common Worship are the “Prayers for Use before Worship” (pp. 17-28) with prayers from many different saints down through the ages, reminding us that we do not pray alone, but as part of the communion of saints. How can our language create a space in time where eternity opens up and we glimpse the glory of the divine presence at work for creation’s good?—this is my question. It’s not my curmudgeonliness that prompts the question; it’s my desire for transcendence, my craving for God. And still believing, underneath all the crustiness of time, that Christ is risen, alive among us in Holy Spirit.