what happens on a Sunday morning

February 19, 2008

A lot can be said concerning Christians gathering on Sunday mornings (and sometimes evenings) for some form of a primary worship event. In spite of critique concerning what happens, about the so called hypocrisy of those who attend, or the comercialization of the service, fact is that still thousands attend. What is happening in this hour is for most people still their primary understanding of “church”. So on a positive note: think potensial. What is the potensial if this hour could really be done in a way that give people an idea of the kingdom of God.

This was my theme for Sunday’s service. Actually a difficult theme, concidering that I didn’t really consider Sunday mornings to be a missional activity, not in the sense of a “seeker” type of setting. Rather, I considered what happened the rest of the week, wherever members of our community went, to be the missional part of a congregation. Reading Patrick Keifert’s Welcoming the Stranger helped form my thinking on this, attempting to point the way towards something that is both worship and missional.

Sermon came from Luke 24, Jesus’ journey from with two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Starting out on the journey, Jesus is called a “stranger” because he pretends not to know about the crisifixion that took place in Jerusalem 3 days before. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the disciples must be the strangers, since Jesus was the one who actually knew what happened, and they didn’t understand. So Jesus start explaining everything to them. I’ve many a time wondered why Jesus didn’t just pop up and say “hallo! this is me!”, rather, a softer approach is followed, and little by little they are introduced to the ideas that would change the world for ever. And then, with the breaking of the bread, they suddenly realize who is it that was journeying with them…

I think our worship gatherings is a lot like this. It is also a journey, and everyone who join on a given occasion take part in this journey. I don’t think the preacher is neccesarily the Jesus figure, rather that on this journey we become Jesus figures for each other, and in the relationship between us, Jesus appear to journey with us. The challenge of our times of worship is to be able to do what Jesus did. To journey with people, slowly introducing them to what we are doing, in such a way that they can understand this. The dream is that we can see people connect to God, to their community, and to an alternative community in our worship times.

And the end of the story of Emmaus is people connecting with an alternative community, a community which radically changed the world, by radically doing what Jesus would have. Just a thoughtin spite of all the criticism against the institutional church, recently I’ve started thinking: “What would happen if 1000 preachers in 1000 Dutch Reformed congregations of South Africa start to preach the Kingdom of God on Sundays?”. Think potensial!

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