Monthly Newsletter — May 2012

Posted by colin on May 1, 2012 under Monthly Newsletter | Comments are off for this article

London Newsletter

May 2012 / Issue 28

In this issue:

  • Upcoming events

  • May Letter

  • Thoughts about Liturgy

  • Things to pray for

  • Quotations Worth Thinking About

Upcoming Events:

  • Communion – Sunday, May 13, 2012

    Our Communion service takes place each month on the second Sunday of the month.

  • Discipleship 101 – Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Our discipleship course takes place each month on the third Sunday of the month. This month we will be looking at the topic, “Remembering the Crucifixion” (Chapter 8 of the booklet).

May Letter

Summer is almost here! I am pleased to let you know that we have again been invited to participate in a combined church service “in the park.” This is a great opportunity to join together with other Christians in various denominations for a joint worship service. It reminds me of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said (quoted in last month’s newsletter):“Christian unity is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather created by God in Christ, in which we may participate.” I will let you know more once the details have been worked out.

This month we will be continuing our series in the book of Isaiah. I think you will find it very helpful to read the chapters we will be covering each week ahead of time. Here is the planned schedule:

  • May 6: Isaiah Chs 28-35
  • May 13: Isaiah Chs 36-39 (compare this account with 2 Kings Ch 18-20 and 2 Chron. Ch 32)
  • May 27: Isaiah Ch 40

Finally, I have included Dr Tkach’s most recent “Weekly Update” below, in which he discusses worship and the meaning of the word “liturgy.”

 

Warmest regards,

Colin and Sue

Thoughts about Liturgy” by Joseph Tkach

Churches with a “non-liturgical” worship tradition tend to equate liturgy with formal worship that has lots of ritual (what my friend Professor Eddie Gibbs describes as “bells and smells”), including standardized prayers.

Though a “liturgical” approach toward worship might seem contrived and stiff to those used to a less formal style, it is perfectly valid when given to the Father, through Jesus, “in spirit and in truth” as Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4.

But please note that liturgy is much more than a style of worship practiced by “high churches” like Roman Catholics, Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox. Whether we recognize it or not, liturgy is fundamental to the rhythm of a Christian’s daily life before God.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word abad is used to describe both worship and work. In the New Testament, the equivalent Greek words are latreuo and leitourgia, from which comes our English word “liturgy.” The original meaning of leitourgia was not just religious good works, but any public duty or service rendered by a citizen for the benefit of the state. A person who did not accept this duty was known as an idiotes – an idiot!

In Romans 12:1, Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sister, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship (from latreia).” He saw a parallel: as citizens of a community accepted their responsibility for public service, so Christians should make themselves available to God for the work of the kingdom. Paul also draws from his own Jewish background of sacrifice in temple worship. The sacrifice here seems to represent an act of total self-giving of one’s life for the benefit of and in response to God’s mercy. But notice the radical transformation of the idea of sacrifice. In ancient Israel the animal gave up its life as it poured out its blood. It died as its life was given over for others. Here Paul proclaims that we are living sacrifices, continually self-giving.

Where did Paul get this striking insight? From the gospel of grace, which he had set forth in the previous eleven chapters! Our sacrifice is a mirror image, reflecting Christ’s own self-giving, which passed through death to eternal life, never to die again! We join in and participate in Christ’s own liturgy of pouring out his life even to the extent of death, but in a way that leads to fullness of life.

Indeed Christ’s own worship transforms the very notion of sacrifice and worship. Paul goes on to say: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (verse 2). Our sacrificial worship demonstrates a whole new pattern of living that comes from sharing daily in the grace of Christ, our crucified, risen and ascended Lord. As we read in Hebrews 8:2, as one of us, in our place and on our behalf, Jesus truly is our worship leader in every moment of our lives. In union with him, we daily die to ourselves in repentance and rise with him to newness of life through total faith in him.

Note that liturgy is not just something “religious” we do in church, or when we pray or study the Bible. It is characteristic of the whole rhythm of our daily life. When, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV), Paul admonished Christians to “pray without ceasing,” he was not saying that we continually pray and never stop. The Greek word he chose is used outside the New Testament to describe a hacking cough. When you have a hacking cough, you do not cough all the time, but you feel like you are. That is what it means to pray without ceasing. It means being in an attitude of prayer at all times. So, when I say that worship is the rhythm of daily life, it is like saying that we pray without ceasing or breathe without ceasing.

The temple in Jerusalem was a liturgical place that involved more than sacrifice. At its dedication, Solomon prayed, “May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place” (2 Chronicles 6:20). We no longer have (nor do we need) a physical temple. Now God’s people are God’s temple – built up by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:5), where acts of sacrifice and service continue day and night, “without ceasing” as together we share God’s love and life with those around us.

And so now, perhaps we can see how in formal times of worship the exact same truth and reality are depicted. Baptism and Communion in the context of proclaiming the grace of God in Jesus announce in action both the sacrifice of self-giving and the transformation to new life we share with Christ. We die with him in immersion and in the breaking of the bread and we rise with him as we ascend through the water of his baptism and partake of his lifegiving blood by drinking his covenantal wine of life. And in both instances we share in what is his, enveloped in his baptism and partaking of his bodily death and resurrection. Yes, that’s liturgical too!

Things to Pray for:

Please continue to pray for:

  • Wayne Coates, son-in-law of Wayne and Norma Vickery (Hepatitis); Gabriella Hodgins (arthritis and tendonitis); Dougall Clutton (back); Lisa Masse (arthritis); Barb Dutton (health); Scott Blaine (MS); Ian Palmatier (rheumatoid arthritis); Lloyd Mitchell and Georgina Faw (loss of spouse).
  • Our brethren in Haiti, where Pastor Joseph Franklin reports that crime is rampant and the country appears to be on the brink of a civil war. Please pray for peace, for wise government, for the protection of our members, and for an improvement in the conditions in Haiti.
  • Christians facing persecution, in particular Yousef Nadarkhani in Iran and Deben Sam, GCI pastor in Nepal who was attacked and beaten up by a group of people upset that he is corrupting Nepalese culture with foreign ideas.
  • Our local congregation that we might fulfill God’s will for us. Pray for the success of our “Church in the Park” service. Pray that we might each be a light in our community, manifesting the love of God to friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.
  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with others, and the courage to do so.

Quotations Worth Thinking About

We have tended to have a good doctrine ofredemption, and a bad doctrine of creation. Of course we have paid lip-service to the truth that God is the Creator of all things, but we seem to have been blind to its implications. Our God has been too ‘religious’, as if his main interests were worship services and prayer meetings attended by church members. Don’t misunderstand me: God does take a delight in the prayers and praises of his people. But now we begin to see him also (as the Bible has always portrayed him) as the Creator, who is concerned for the secular world as well as the church, who loves all men and not Christians only, and who is interested in the whole of life and not merely in religion.

John Stott

Christian holiness is not a matter of painstaking conformity to the individual precepts of an external law code; it is rather a question of the Holy Spirit’s producing His fruit in the life, reproducing those graces which were seen in perfection in the life of Christ.”

F.F Bruce

We are and remain such creeping Christians, because we look at ourselves and not at Christ.

George MacDonald

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