Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Thoughts on the Church and Worship

Andrew's excellent post inspired me to write some additional thoughts about worship in church. I resonate with his concern that worship services do not afford believers adequate space to minister to one another. Take the Lord's Supper as an example. In almost every worship service I've attended, believers have been encouraged to focus on their personal relationship with God during communion. The focus is personal meditation on the broken body of Christ. Of course it's tremendously important to reflect on Christ's death for us. However, is this what Paul had in mind when he spoke of "discerning the body" during communion (1Cor 11:29)? Robert Banks hits the proverbial nail on the head in his exegesis of this phrase;

Paul says that "all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves" [1 Cor] (11:29, NRSV). Although this has been generally interpreted as a reference to Christ's crucified body, the community itself is almost certainly in view. Members of the community need to recognize their unity and "receive" one another...The fact that there are many members of the community should lead not to the assertion of individualistic attitudes, nor to the formation of cliques within it, but instead to a continuing affirmation of its solidarity.

- Paul's Idea of Community, rev ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994); 59.

The Corinthians are weak and dying because they aren't showing concern for the less esteemed members of their community during corporate meals. Failing to attend to the needs of said community members contradicts the very event the Lord's Supper embodies. This is why judgment has fallen over their gatherings.

Is the Lord's Supper a participatory event today? Do we proclaim the gospel in our gatherings; not simply by partaking of the elements, but by lavishing grace on the needy and broken in our churches? Are we looking to embody the message of the cross by meeting the economic/emotional/spiritual/physical needs of fellow believers? How do we do this better?

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