I was naive, arrogant, and passionate about Jesus! I know, that's a can of mixed nuts, but isn't that the truth for all of us: pure and impure, selfless and selfish, God-glorifying and self-exalting motives all wrapped-up in a self who desperately needs Jesus. Yes, I'm older and hopefully wiser today than 2004, but I'm still a can of mixed nuts.
Back to blowing up Sunday mornings...I have since changed my tune (still tone deaf but a different tune nonetheless). I value Sunday mornings, in all its messiness, more than I ever have. Here are a few reasons:
- God's people gather. You find it in the OT and you rediscover it in the NT. God's people gathering in his presence is part of the breathing in and breathing out of communal life. It's in the rhythm. God gathers and consecrates the band of freed slaves around Mt. Sinai in preparation for his descent. The people gather before entering the Promised Land to hear Moses's 33 chapter sermon. Joshua assembles the tribes at Shechem to renew the covenant. Israel packs together to dedicate the Temple built for Yahweh. Ezra reads the Law to the mass of returned exiles at the Water Gate square. The ascent Psalms help us imagine the pilgrims trekking into Jerusalem for the religious feasts and festivals. In the NT, Jews meet in synagogues on the Sabbath. In Acts 2, the First Church gathers in the very public Temple Courts and in more private individual homes. Even the term Paul uses for church, "Ekklesia," means "assembly." We gather...it's in our blood!
- Something happens. Acts 13:2 reads, "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them.'" It was no coincidence that the Spirit moved among the Body as they gathered to worship and fast. Something happens when the Body gets together, namely God moves - God does something. Churches of Christ could take a page out of the Pentecostal manual when it comes to expectation. Too many churches expect too little on Sunday mornings. Church leaderships should foster a culture that expects God to move!
- It is a starting place. Sunday mornings are entertaining, consumeristic, fluffy, and overly time conscious, but they are also filled with greetings and hugs, the Word of God, songs offered as sacrifice, giving and tithing, confession, and prayer... Sunday mornings are like me- a can of mixed nuts- and far from perfect or theologically ideal. My theology has always said, "Sunday mornings are not the sum total of Christianity!" Exactly! And in our consumerist/entertainment culture Sunday mornings are a starting place for discipleship. So, let's leverage Sunday mornings as a starting place for faith and not as the time slot to prove the perfection of our ecclesiology (understanding/practice of the church).
- I Crave It! In my respite from full-time ministry I find myself anticipating Sunday mornings. I crave those opportunities for communal worship, not because I put my Christianity on hold during the week, but because I need to join my voice with other Life pilgrims. I need to hug some necks. I need to hear the Word of the Lord declared and not simply read in solitude. I need to hold the body of Christ in my hand and to taste his blood on my lips. I need it! And yes, it makes me FEEL good, and that is okay. It plays with my emotions but in a good way. Sunday reminds me of the larger story, the one playing out on a cosmic scale. It fills me up and I want to be filled among the Body of Christ because so many other things compete for that space.