I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Shapes

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If children belong at the table, if we’re to rejoice at the feast of the kingdom with our sons and daughters, then they’ve got to be washed up. If our children belong at the table of the Father, if they participate in the body and blood of the Lord, if they share the holy things as living stones in the temple of the Spirit, then they should also receive the effective sign of baptism.

The role of children in the church divides Baptistic Christians from others. It’s not a minor issue. Whether we baptize babies or not, we’re making a statement about the boundaries of the city of God. And not just a statement: The way we baptize, whom we baptize, shapes the kind of city we are.

Without children, the church is a club for the religiously mature. Without children, the feasts of the church are more restrictive than the feast of old Israel, as if God’s hospitality had, unthinkably, contracted after the coming of the Son and Spirit. Without children, the church cannot be the new humanity that extends as far as the old humanity, from the cradle to the death–bed. Without children, the church is something less than the city of God. Without children, it may be a city under judgment, a city without children laughing in the streets and playing in the squares.

Peter Leithart, The Theopolitan Vision, 39–40

Written by Scott Moonen

July 11, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Quotations, Worship

Always

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The Lord’s Supper should be part of every Lord’s day liturgy. Worship in the Bible always takes place at a table. An altar is a table (cf. Ezek 41:22), and ever since the flood the people of God have erected altars at places of worship (Gen 8:20; 12:7–8; 33:20; Exod 20:24).

If you could see an ancient Israelite preparing for a feast, you’d see him pick an unblemished animal from his flock or herd, prepare flour or bread, and grab a flagon of wine. If you didn’t know better, you might suspect he’s preparing for a barbecue. Because he is. At the tabernacle and temple, priests offer the Lord’s bread and worshipers share His food (cf. Lev 21–22). Covenant renewal climaxes with a covenant meal, a sign of restored harmony between the parties to the covenant.

Biblically, worship without a meal isn’t worship at all. When we worship without the Supper, it’s as if we’re disciples on the road to Emmaus, who hear Jesus speak but never recognize Him because we don’t stick around for the breaking of bread (Luke 24). A liturgy without the Supper is like a contract without signatures; it is (not just like) a wedding feast without food, a party without hors d’oeuvres and wine, as if the Lord were to open His house to extend hospitality but never offered chips or brought the beer out of the fridge.

Peter Leithart, The Theopolitan Vision, 31

Written by Scott Moonen

July 11, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Quotations, Worship

Rehearsal

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A theme, a melody, is a definite statement in tones—and apparently music can never have enough of saying over again what has already been said, not once or twice, but dozens of times; hardly does a section, which consists largely of repetitions, come to an end before the whole story is happily retold over again.

How is it that a procedure which, in any other form of expression, would produce sheer nonsense proves, in the language of music, to be thoroughly sensible—to such an extent that rehearing what has already been heard is one of the chief sources—for many, the chief source—of the pleasure given by music?

Victor Zuckerkandl, Sound and Symbol. HT: John Barach

Written by Scott Moonen

May 12, 2019 at 8:47 am

Posted in Music, Quotations, Worship

Authentic

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Modern society tends to deprecate cultural modes of expression such as ritual, ceremony, and formal signs of affection and respect because they appear “arbitrary.” Of course, each individual cultural expression, like all symbols, is arbitrary, but the existence of some cultural expression is not arbitrary. It is humanly essential. The meaning of a cultural expression may be determined by tradition rather than by the rationally calculated requirements of the situation. But in language, art, and other matters of cultural expression, much of the symbol’s effectiveness in strengthening a community derives from the community’s tradition. To reject a language because the meaning assigned to each sound is arbitrary misses the point. All languages are arbitrary, and there is no workable substitute for a common set of meanings passed on by a human tradition.

Likewise, people in modern society can often deprecate cultural expressions as “inauthentic.” This objection also ignores an important human truth. If each individual or grouping is expected to develop independently an “authentic” and rich system of symbolic expression, then such systems will never come to be. Instead, human life will be gradually impoverished of its means of expression, and the human realities that need regular expression will be left unprovided for. Cultural expressions are shared meanings, not unique creations.

(Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 607–608)

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Inescapable

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Everyone tithes. You tithe to something, just like everybody worships. There are no atheists: everybody worships something; everybody has a god.

In the same way, tithing is an inescapable concept, since the first fruits . . . is either going to go to God or it’s going to go to somebody else. You can give it to yourself, or your creditor, or your vacation savings account, or your recreation. but you’re going to give it to somebody. . . .

The one who gets the fruit of our labor is the one we call god. We give the tithe to the person who we believe has blessed us. And that belongs to no other than our Creator.

Duane Garner, Performing Our Vows

Written by Scott Moonen

March 25, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Singing and slaying

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The Rohirrim sing oft in battle:

Merry and Pippin heard, clear in the cold air, the neighing of war–horses, and the sudden singing of many men. The Sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world. Then with a great cry the Riders charged from the East; the red light gleamed on mail and spear.

And much later:

And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of the battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.

See also: Worship is warfare, Treebeard, Worship is warfare (2)

Written by Scott Moonen

December 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Je ne sais quoi

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A liturgy without the Supper is like a contract without signatures. It is (not just like) a wedding feast without food, a party without hors d’oeuvres, as if the Lord opens his house to extend hospitality but never offers food or cracks open a bottle of wine. —Peter Leithart

See also: Weekly communion

Written by Scott Moonen

November 23, 2018 at 3:58 pm