Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sunday Morning

The vital importance of Sunday morning is pretty easily lost amidst a flurry of very valid concerns and very important truths, pastoral and theological.  "All of life is worship", so what need is there to have this short period of time fenced off  from the rest of the week and allocated for 'worship'?  "Church is more than a Sunday service", so why place so much emphasis on coming together once a week?  "What really matters is relationship to God and one another", so why have this relatively formal time of liturgical action and listening?  "Our mission is to be in the world as a witness", so is there any sense in making this gathering together of the 'already-ins' the focus of our church week?

All this stuff matters.  But Sunday morning matters more, for two reasons.

Firstly, Sunday morning tells us how we are doing.  It is all very well, and indeed it is absolutely vital, that I commit to worship God with all my life.  But the very all-inclusivity of the target makes it hard to know if I'm hitting it or not.  How joyfully can I sing on a Sunday morning, when I'm gathered together with God's people?  That is a barometer of how joyfully I have been living for Christ throughout the week.  I see this as in some ways parallel to the Sabbath command in the OT.  All my life should be lived resting in God, but it is how I treat this one day which tells me whether that is happening or not.  (Incidentally, reflecting on this is causing me to reconsider my general opposition to Christian Sabbatarianism, but that is a thought for another day).

Secondly, Sunday morning tells us who we are.  If our worship is Christian worship - if it is focussed on and shaped by the gospel - then it will in turn shape us.  We need the gospel story constantly dripped into our lives, and this happens most of all on Sunday mornings.  Yes, we need daily Bible reading, but Sunday morning is where the action of worship in the setting of the gathered people of God brings the gospel home.  This is not just about the sermon; it is about everything that we do together.

There is a circle here, or perhaps a mutually reinforcing dyad.  As Sunday morning reveals how I'm doing, it also shapes me to do better; as it shapes me, it reveals to me how my life is corresponding to the gospel story.  The point of both movements is to lift my eyes to Christ.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning.

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