Welcome to Part 5 of our blog series: Mission Our Worship. Week by week, we are looking at each section of worship and thinking about how we can engage in acts of mission that are related to each of those elements. In previous posts we have discussed how God calls us, not only to gather together in worship, but also calls us to love and serve our neighbors. We have considered how adoration of the creator leads us to care for what God has created. Confessing our sin requires us to be aware of the ways that we, individually and collectively, have hurt our neighbors through social injustices. We’ve also talked about how the Spirit uncovers more of the power and meaning of Scripture when we study the Bible in community… particularly with neighbors who are different from us. Our collective wisdom and collective experiences of life provide a richer soil for our growing understanding of God’s Word and its application in our lives.
Everything that comes after this point in worship is in response to hearing God’s Word read and proclaimed. For many of us, the sermon is followed each week by some kind of creed or litany. You could say it is a kind of “dialogue” with the proclaimed Word. Given what we have just learned from the Scriptures, what do we now have to say in response?
Often this “response” is a statement that is read by the whole congregation. Often the text of what is said is something that some group of people (past or present) has created as a public declaration about faith and life. Some classic examples of what I’m talking about are The Apostles Creed and The Nicene Creed. Those are very old statements, but some are more “modern” (as in, written in the last centruy). For instance, The Barmen Declaration was written by German Christians in the 1930s because they found it important to say publicly, “Jesus is Lord. Not Hitler or anybody else.” All these statements were written within a context, with all the politics, concerns, debates, and societal problems that came with that context.
So, how do we “mission” this part of worship? In many ways it is by simply doing what so many groups of Christians have done before us… discerning and saying what we believe! What are the issues and questions that we are discussing as a people today? Locally, nationally, or globally, what needs to be said, and said together as a group of Christians?
In the past, these statements have typically been made by “official bodies” represneting countries or denominations or elected groups and assemblies. Technology has now “flattened” alot of those ways of communicating. Now anyone can make a statement and send it around on social media to see if others agree or disagree. (Such as, “If you feel this way too, like and share it!”) Another example of how folks have made a statement together is the let’s be neighbors signs that have been put in many front yards or businesses. There’s no “official body” deciding that we all will now believe this statement of inclusion. But many folks have made the choice to say it, and they have let their neighbors know that they feel this way.
So, what is it that your faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is leading you to believe and say? What is God putting on your mind and heart that the world needs to hear, at this time and in this context? What statement can your youth group make together, and how can it be shared with others?
Having heard God’s Word read and proclaimed, let us stand and say what we believe!