Category Archives: Articles on Worship

He will dress himself for service.

He will dress himself for service.

What is he doing? The servant stared with bewilderment as his master girded up his garment and bent down to the bowl of water. He had done as his lord had commanded—he was dressed and ready for service; the lamps were burning, even though it was already the third watch. He was still awake. He… Continue Reading

Lukewarm

Lukewarm

He spewed the water from his mouth. Disgusting! He had recently come from his home in Colossae. There he regularly enjoyed cool, refreshing water from the spring. He had often taken it for granted. I should have remembered, he thought picking up the cup he had dropped to the ground. I’m not home anymore. The… Continue Reading

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

Like ancient Israel, early Christians considered worship on the Lord’s Day to be sacred—set apart from the regular, mundane activities of life, and therefore what took place in corporate worship was also sacred. This day was “the Lord’s” in a way different from all other days, and the eucharist was a table belonging to the… Continue Reading

Tax Collectors and Sinners

Tax Collectors and Sinners

There was commotion at the windows. What are they doing here? he thought. He had not expected to meet this famed teacher, let alone dine with him at his table. He had been minding his own business, collecting taxes for the Romans. It was his job; sure, he took a little off the top, but… Continue Reading

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

After the close of the New Testament Scriptures, details concerning how, exactly, Christians worshiped are somewhat difficult to determine. However, several early documents do help to elucidate some of what characterized church gatherings. These include letters from important church leaders like Clement of Rome (35–99), Ignatius in Antioch (c. 35–107), Polycarp (69–155), Clement of Alexandria… Continue Reading

Abide

Abide

It was a strong vine, surging with health and life. The vine dresser moved along the length of the vine, carefully fingering each branch. He had come to know these branches through the years. He knew their needs, and tended to them with the love of a father. He stopped. He reached in and fingered… Continue Reading

The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day

An early second-century letter from Ignatius, one of the first pastors of the church in Antioch, helps to solidify that the first day of the week became for Christians their primary day of worship and that they referred to it as “the Lord’s Day.” The phrase “Lord’s Day” appears only once in the New Testament… Continue Reading

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

One important principle articulated in several places in the New Testament was an emphasis upon the importance of biblical authority for worship practices. Usually these kinds of discussions came in the context of confronting the legalism of the Jewish religion. During his ministry, Jesus had already condemned the adding of religious practices not prescribed in… Continue Reading

Accepted

Accepted

I cannot be here. I should not be here. He knew he was unworthy. He could hardly lift his head. The sound was almost deafening. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” It was a sound unlike he had ever heard before, yet also strangely familiar. Terrifying, yet comforting all at the same time.… Continue Reading

Worship in the Assembly

Worship in the Assembly

While the book of Acts gives examples of early churches gathering for worship—Scripture reading, preaching, prayer, and the Lord’s Table—the rest of the New Testament further emphasizes this central purpose for church meetings. In particular, several ways in which the New Testament authors describe the church and what it does when it gathers clearly identify… Continue Reading

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a unique Christian addition to corporate worship, though it finds roots in the Passover meal. The book of Acts describes the meal as “the breaking of bread” (2:42, 46; 20:7–11), and Paul says that he passed on what he calls “the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor 11:20) to the church, having received… Continue Reading

No Access

No Access

The king raged with fury. How dare they say I have no right to be here? he steamed. I have done right in the sight of God. He has blessed me. He thought of all the rich spoils of battle adorning his chambers. I have grown strong. My fame has spread far. I deserve to… Continue Reading

Singing and Making Melody

Singing and Making Melody

In both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, Paul commands gathered believers to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, thereby “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). Scholars disagree as to the exact meaning of the three terms psalms, hymns,… Continue Reading

An Unlikely Invitation

An Unlikely Invitation

The man was a scoundrel, certainly not worthy of the invitation he had just received. He had stolen before—he had even stolen from the king’s treasury. And now he was eyeing the fat purse on the richly-dressed nobleman headed his way on the main road, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Oh no,… Continue Reading

Memorial

Memorial

The requirement for Israel of specific times and rituals for worship, both weekly and annually, established a fundamental principle for God’s people that did not end with Israel. God’s creation of these worship days and festivals was not arbitrary; rather, in establishing these days, God clearly articulated their purpose. For example, when God founded the… Continue Reading

Worship at Sinai

Worship at Sinai

Fifty days after the exodus from Egypt, the people of Israel arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where God specifically set apart the worshiping community and gave instructions for how he desired to be worshiped, serving as the formative era of Israelite worship and history. This encounter is on God’s initiative. The people don’t… Continue Reading

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Worldview-Forming Worship You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

What we have seen over the past several weeks is a dynamic interplay between four realities: worldview, theology, culture, and cultus. Worldview and theology affect one another and constitute religion; culture and cultus affect one another as liturgy. But this kind of mutual formation occurs at a macro level as well, between religion and liturgy,… Continue Reading

The Liturgical Nature of Cultus

The Liturgical Nature of Cultus

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Worldview-Forming Worship You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I described the liturgical nature of culture. Yet there is a second element within the broader concept of liturgy, actually the more common use of the term, and the one that centers on the primary focus of this book—worship. While the Greek term leitourgia was originally used to describe all sorts of social works,… Continue Reading

The Liturgical Nature of Culture

The Liturgical Nature of Culture

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Worldview-Forming Worship You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

I am arguing that liturgy forms our religion, and religion forms our liturgy. When I left off last time, I defined religion as worldview + theology. Now it’s time to define liturgy. Liturgy is a word that I am using to describe the way we “live and move and have our being.” Our English word… Continue Reading

Do This in Remembrance of Me

Do This in Remembrance of Me

The observance of the “Last Supper” by Jesus and his disciple appears in all four gospels, though John does not give details of the meal itself (Matt. 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:19, 20). The particular elements of the meal mentioned in the gospel records (and repeated later in 1 Corinthians) each become significant for the… Continue Reading