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Rehearsing the Gospel: Becoming a Worshipping Community of Mercy

In his book Ancient-Future Worship, Robert Webber says this, “Today, as in the ancient era, the Church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: who gets to narrate the world?”

Who gets to narrate the world? Since their beginning, Christians have answered that God does, and that the core of the story of the world is the gospel – the good news of the finished work of Jesus Christ. 

But we human beings are weak, fickle and forgetful. And we are prone to be shaped and formed by the narratives of our day – narratives of novelty and narcissism, pragmatism and programs, entertainment and emptiness.

But what if it were possible to not only proclaim and hear the gospel each and every time we gather, but to narrate and rehearse the story of God through the very structure of our worship service? 

From its earliest days, this has been the purpose of liturgy in the Church. Through liturgical worship, we not only give God the praise and glory he is due as the author and sustainer of all things. We also narrate the gospel and are simultaneously formed in our pursuit of worship, community and mercy: loving God, loving one another and loving our neighbors. 

Liturgy is worship. And liturgy forms our worship. 

We sing, pray, respond, recite creeds, confess, engage in silence, pass the peace, hear the scriptures, and receive bread and wine – all as genuine expression of our praise of God. But also to form in us the rhythms of remembering the past story of God and anticipating God’s future for the world. 

Liturgy invites us into community. God has created a people for himself. And therefore, gathered worship is not intended to be an individual, passive experience, but a participatory action in our shared identity as the people of God. 

And liturgy propels us to mercy. As Robbert Webber puts it, “In this world there is always a witness to the restoration of the world, and you should be able to find it in the worship of the church.” Whether sung, read, preached or partaken, worship is a repeated encounter with our living Lord that He uses to produce Gospel-shaped lives equipped to participate in His redemptive mission.

Join us this fall as we step back and consider what it means to rehearse the gospel through our liturgical worship and how we long for God to form us more and more into a worshipping community of mercy. 

 

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