The Languages of Worship: Time and Space (Essentials Red)

Chris  —  February 24, 2009 — 3 Comments
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For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt

I’ve been thinking (and learning) about the value of remembering lately. God repeatedly told the Israelites to remember what He had done for them, and they repeatedly forgot and got into trouble. I have found myself making fun of the Israelites and wondering what their problem was, only to realize that we do the same thing. It just looks a little different.

Dan Wilt has said that “one of the greatest evidences that we are a fallen race is our tendency to forget.” I know that’s true in my own life, and in the life of the people I minister with and to each week. That’s why as a worship/creative person, I at times what to have people do something physical or take something home to engage with and remember a concept. How many of us have rocks and cloth and little crosses from past spiritual experiences? “God is the central reality of the universe. Our allegience, surrender, and hope is in Him” (Dan Wilt). We would agree that was true. If that’s so, then why do we have such a hard time remembering that daily?

God is far beyond and far bigger than our frame of reference (both time and space), but He is fully present in it. That’s incredible to think about. If God is so interested in every moment of time, why then do I ignore God in so much of my day?

While He was on earth, Jesus ministered in real places and at real points in history.

I think that’s why the church of the past developed what’s known as the Church Calendar. Up until recently, it was something I had not given much thought to and even dismissed as an old-fashioned traditional and extremely liturgical element. But I am beginning to see and discover its value. It traces the life, ministry, and impact of Jesus – the story of God’s love so we can remember. Consider…

  • Advent deals with the coming of Christ.
  • Christmas deals with His birth.
  • Epiphany deals with His manifestation to the Gentiles.
  • Lent deals with His journey toward death.
  • The Great Triduum deals with the last days of Jesus’ earthly life.
  • Easter deals with His resurrection.
  • Pentecost deals with experiencing life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The need to remember and be conscious of time is significant. Robert Webber said that forgetting brings death, but remembering brings life. So I wonder if we should be focusing more on the Gospel story and celebration of God’s love in our corporate gatherings and leave the heavy theology and better living stuff to other discipleship venues?

We need to remember the times when God is present in our lives. We need to remember when He did something that drew us to Him and reminded us again of who He is.

We also need to be conscious of the significant spaces where we have seen or encountered God. Yes, I know we can encounter God anywhere. He is not limited by our perceptions of time and place, but there are certain places, venues, and vistas that arrest our attention and draw our eyes (and hearts) toward heaven. Places say things about their occupants (homes, offices, etc.). What does our church building say about God and His people?

In those moments when time and space and our hearts intersect in worship, I’m realizing that I need to be fully present in the presence of God. For there is truth in the statement that the glory of God is a human being fully alive to Him (Irenaeus – 2nd  century writer and theologian).

So, what does this mean? We need to remember…

  • In the holidays we celebrate that are a real reflection of things Christ did.
  • In the songs we sing that proclaim and remind us of the truth of God.
  • In the act of communion as the representation of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
  • In our daily lives as we go about living for a God and King who has promised to journey with us through every season of life.

That’s something worth remembering.


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3 responses to The Languages of Worship: Time and Space (Essentials Red)

  1. This is my main focus in how I serve in my local congregation. It’s all about creating the worship space. To entice the skeptic, challenge the lukewarm and ignite passion in the believer (to go into the world). The reach beyond the stage, break through the fourth wall, utilize all the senses in worship including take-aways…
    I’ll be interested to see how you incorporate this concept into worship.

    • Thanks. It’s a continual journey. We are no where near doing some of the cool stuff that you are, but it’s a growth process for us. One of the first things that I was able to do after I came to this church was to work with another guy to get the walls of the stage area repainted from stark white to a rich bugundy/maroon color. It helped to really warm up the environment.

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