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Week Four: Discussion Question Response

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Thelogy Course with Dan Wilt

Week Four: Christian World View

Origins :Who is God, who are human beings, and why are we here?

God is the Creator of all things in heaven and on the earth, all things temporal and eternal. God exists in eternity, and outside of eternity, for: He is the beginning, the Alpha, and He is the end, the Omega (Revelation 22:13). God exists in every dimension, both imaginable and unimaginable.

God created man, in His own image, to be His expression into his created order.
We are the image-bearers of God on the earth, reflecting God to the world, and reflecting
to Him all that He has made us to be. We reflect to him the glory and praises of His creation. Man is here not for a display of God’s ability to create, but for the purpose of reflecting back to him a true love, a complete praise for all that He is, aside from creating. The divine fellowship of man and God is the total fulfillment of being for man, as we are made complete in Him. It is a self-restored completion of Himself, as He interacts with His Creation redeemed as holy, and as He reaps the praises of His Creation.

God exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: the triune God. This expression is His expression to man. All three are equally involved in the Creation story, in perfect harmony.

What happened to us along the way, and what did God do?

Man was made in the image of the God, for the purpose of fellowship and expressions of worship to God. As created beings, in His image, having “the very ilk of God” within us, (Wilt, week three lecture), we naturally desire to be creative, ourselves. This propensity to be co-creators became a source of pride, thus severing the perfect and holy relationship first known in the garden with God.

Through Israel, God has been inviting reconciliation to Himself all throughout scripture.
The God story has been told and re-told throughout the history of Israel. Israel disobeyed, and judgment was imposed. Repentance was called for, and fellowship was restored. This pattern is repeated over and over through the scriptures, until the arrival of the true King, Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God provided the way for the covenant between God and man to be restored.

What is the Kingdom of God, and how is it expressed in the world/in the human
family/by the Church?

When Jesus conferred the Kingdom of God unto His disciples, He made himself the Lamb, offering his own blood as the blood of the new covenant with man. Restoring the kingdom in his blood was not at first understood, but now stands as the greatest atonement ever given us. The Kingdom of God is now, and will be, just as God was, and is and is to come. There is a spiritual element to the Kingdom, as well as a physical realm, and a future manifestation.

The Kingdom of God is expressed in the world by way of our lives, our actions, our obedience and allegiance to the true King, Jesus Christ. We are to live in His promises, reflecting His love to all, and His glory to the world. As we become this mirror to the world, He will act upon the hearts of men and draw them to Himself.

The church must serve to foster community among believers, to draw on the God stories and mark this time in history. As Salvific story tellers, (Wilt, week one lecture) we carry the imprint of God’s creation in our hearts to the rest of the world, lifting up the name of the King. We carry the flame.

Endings: where is human history going – what will be our final destiny?

Jesus’ ultimate return is our hope, and our future. God has a plan that began before time began, and that plan includes having an eternal fellowship with us through Jesus Christ. We are assured as individuals that we were thought of even before time began.
“your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16, Bible, NIV).
We are assured of His ultimate victory over sin, and of his earthly and heavenly reign.

While we live within this created order, we are also citizens of the eternal order, being provided a shared experience with Him through Jesus Christ. The destiny of man, the purpose of man, is to glorify God. It is because of His great love that He turned His heart toward us, rescued us and completed His plan for us.

With all this said, there can be no greater joy fathomed than to spend eternity with God: none other!
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co–heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)
In looking forward to sharing in God’s glory, we must be able to grasp our initial salvation, which is a miracle. Jesus will establish His earthly kingdom, which we are destined to take part in.

The God-story does not end there.
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-13)

July 24, 2008 Posted by | ICEWS eb 2008 | 1 Comment

Week Three: Second of Two Reflections on media for icews

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Thelogy Course with Dan Wilt

I am reflecting here on N. T. Wright’s article, “The Word In Worship”.

He writes about the “almost cavalier way in which scripture is treated within worship”.

This observation is not far off from the truth, at all. Recalling a song-writers’ workshop that I attended two years ago, the emphasis was indeed on small snippets of scripture becoming the basis for new songs. These short verses which make up a song are actually part of a larger context, and when we ignore that in favor of writing a new song, we miss out on the richness of meaning that was intended in the writing.

I tend to agree with Wright, in that an understanding of what is going on around that snippet of scripture is vital to walking away from church with an enriched understanding of God’s character or without being able to agree down through the ages with the truths passed on. How, then, can we pass on these truths if we merely sing portions of them?

In the blended worship style, which covers the gamut from Hymns and liturgy to the pop choruses we hear today, there is still a danger in missing the point with scriptural songs if they are only included to satisfy a requirement of blending in. Take, for example, the opening hymn. An opening hymn should be a call to worship, and several elements are looked at in choosing the right hymn. It should be a life-giving message, perhaps, which unites the weary into the glorious presence of God, ushering them right into a corporate stanza of praise. Would it be fair to say, though sad to admit, that occasionally the hymn finally chosen has been categorized not by message, but by its tempo? Hmmm.

I am curious to dig into some of the prayer books mentioned by Wright: for example, he mentioned St. Augustine and Bernard of Clarvaux. I am curious to see how the people embrace these prayers, and how we could fit them into our service.

For me, meditating on the scripture our pastor is planning to preach from helps me to prepare my heart for worship. Sometimes he sets a season for a topic, and I can get an idea of what songs may glorify God in the message. Pastor and I had a great discussion once about planning service, and we both agreed that the worship needed to glorify God, usher the people into that place of encounter with His holy presence, and sing of eternal truths.

We have begun to add readings of the scripture back into our services, but not to standardize the service; rather to enlighten the people to reading scripture as part of our worship of the Lord.

Finally, I’d like to add that I’ve taken lately to doing some of my worship planning from the seats in the sanctuary. What if I were a person who came to church for the first time ever? What would I need to hear? Or, suppose I came in tired of life, ready to give up? It’s been so many years since I had one of those experiences where I did not know what to expect from worship. As leader, I always know what is on the slate. So, in reviewing these great needs that people carry on their shoulders into service, it could very well be that the tried and true prayers, the pilgrimages of the saints gone by, could offer solace and strengthen faith just as well today as they did long ago?

July 24, 2008 Posted by | ICEWS eb 2008 | Leave a comment