REFORMATION AND REMEMBRANCE
Worship purposely stirs remembrance. On a personal level the remembrance can take on a variety of forms and move in a broad array of directions. For instance, this past Sunday I visited a church on assignment. I was handed a bulletin that had a picture on the front of a familiar set of doors (yes, there are Baptist churches that still use printed bulletins or worship guides). As I looked more closely at the depiction, my mind was drawn to a day during a group trip to Germany in which we visited the Castle Church in Wittenburg. I reminisced a bit about the trip itself. I remembered my wife and I joining others from our travel group to step inside the famous Lutheran church to sing a hymn tied to that place and its tenants of 1517. Fast forward to Sunday, October 28, 2012, and here I was, sitting in a sanctuary recently renovated including installation of a new pulpit bearing the inscription, “Preach the Word.” I was moved to pray for the congregation and its present pastor that the Word might indeed remain central in its gathered worship and practice.
It was a high privilege Sunday to worship in a church that recognized and celebrated the significance of Reformation Sunday. No doubt the Baptist church owed this recognition to the worship leadership offered by its pastor and worship music leader who planned the service and guided worshipers through its paces. Having served in this same congregation earlier in my own vocational experience I was pleasantly surprised to hear affirmation from worshipers of the service’s emphasis, and its impact upon personal faith as well as on the community. I confess the affirmations were directed as much at the trust in pastoral leadership as they were at the substance of the Reformation emphasis, but even this served as reminder to me that leaders who build trust through consistent integrity are able to broaden the scope of worshipers’ appreciation of places, ways, and times that God has worked among His people. And what, after all, is worship about, if not remembering the acts of Almighty God, celebrating what He has done, considering what He is now doing in and through His people, and looking toward a future that is in Him? This seems to me to be the life of faith in Christ rooted in the Gospel that is central to Christian worship.
Those in faith traditions that practice a more formal liturgy prescription than do most Baptists and other evangelicals, would perhaps be either unimpressed, or simply surprised at the observance of Reformation Sunday in a church from the Free Church tradition (used here to refer to those who do not follow a set liturgy set by denominational hierarchy). While there was no liturgical color of red displayed to represent the Holy Spirit or martyrs of the Church, nor prayers read from a common prayer book, there was reminder and recounting of the actions and sentiment of Martin Luther. There was also singing of the hymn most often associated to this significant event, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and there was a sermon preached that was rich with Gospel focus. Worshipers were reminded of the sole source of change to transform us from a person or people dead in trespasses and sin to those who are:
made alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised up with him and raised up in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:5-6
Here in this verse we see the trajectory by which we can, in a very real spiritual sense, remember the future (worship). This is surely the Gospel in motion that we experience in Christian worship – remembering the acts of God which display His character, remembering His claims upon our present life and our full dependence on Him, and remembering a faith future of “things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
Throughout the worship service my eyes moved around the room with flashes of memories from my own tenure serving as Minister of Music here, and remembrance of ministry moments, some glorious and some challenging. In worship I was reminded of the Lord’s sole sufficiency to rightly position me, and us, in Christ through the powerful presence and work of His Holy Spirit. I was renewed.
As His church our need is for ongoing reformation. (semper reformanda) Lord, let us remember, and to You alone be glory in Your church. Amen.Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Shared Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Uncategorized, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship