Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Liturgy...How Then Should We Worship?

OK, now that I've sufficiently harped on worship for a while, (pun intended,) the next several posts will be devoted to liturgy. A pattern for worship, derived as much as possible from scripture. These posts will be adapted from books, articles & teachings by Jeff Meyers, Kemper Crabb and Peter Leithart.


Biblical Worship, which means viewing the Lord’s Day as the Day of the Lord, is the time when God comes and renews His covenant with His people. Covenant renewal is characterized by God’s calling us to worship, His forgiving our sins and restoring us, His teaching us from His Word, His feeding us at His table, and His commissioning us to go forth and conquer.

Calling-Convene, Cleansing-Confession, Consecration-Conditions, Communion-Covenant, Commission-Continuity

From Lev 9:7,12,18

Each sacrificial animal is always 1) killed and its blood splashed on the altar (cleansing), then 2) washed, skinned, cut up, and arranged on the altar grill (consecration), and finally 3) turned into smoke and incorporated into God’s presence as food (communion). This is the sacrificial pathway/liturgy that every animal/worshiper experienced as God brought him near.

God Calls Us, We Gather Together and Praise Him

God Cleanses Us, We Confess Our Sins
God Consecrates Us, We Respond in Prayer and Offering
God Communes With Us, We Eat God’s Food

God Commissions (Blesses) Us, We March Out to Serve God

(1) The Purification offering highlights and expands on the cleansing or purification dimension of sacrificial offerings. That’s why it is called the purification offering. The act of the slaughter and the display of the blood is accented. For example, Lev. 17 (the day of atonement) is an elaborate purification offering where the act of confession and forgiveness is highlighted. The other two aspects are there, but downplayed.

(2) The Ascension Offering expands on the element of consecration and ascension of the animal/worshiper into God’s presence. That’s why it is named ‘olah (Hebrew for “ascension”). The offering is caused to ascend. That is why the ascension offering highlights the acts of skinning, cutting up, washing, and then the transformation of the entire representative animal by fire and its incorporation into the cloud of God’s special presence at the tabernacle.

(3) The Communion Offering expands on the element of union and communion with God which is present in all the sacrifices, but highlighted in this offering. The food aspect of sacrifice is emphasized. In the communion offering fellowship and peace with God are not merely symbolized by the sacrifice being turned into smoke and assimilated into the glory cloud. Here fellowship with God is communicated by means of a common meal.

to be continued...

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