reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

I have been a worship leader and a pastor.  In Protestant non-liturgical churches there is often a disconnect between worship leaders and pastors.

Generally speaking worship leaders see the most important part of the Sunday service as the “worship”–meaning the singing and the pouring of one’s heart out to God.  The music, no-doubt, takes up the bulk of the service, say 45 minutes or even more. A service in which the Holy Spirit really moves, the sermon may be skipped altogether as we spend the whole time in worship.

Pastors, on the other hand, generally see the preaching of the Word as the most important part of the service.  When the Word is preached and people receive revelation for their lives….that’s the good stuff.  The “worship” (meaning, again, the singing) serves to prepare people to receive the message.

When I subscribed to periodicals for worship leaders there were often articles giving various perspective on the tug-o-war between pastors and worship leaders.  While not a huge problem, definitely it is a tension in church leadership.  What is the answer? What is the purpose of the Sunday service and where should the focus be? Worship or Word?

In the Mass there is not this tension (or contention).  The center of the service is Jesus Himself in the Eucharist.  The reading of the Word, the hymns, the liturgy all lead up to the big moment when Christ is presented–His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Undivided. Revealed.

Jesus said that if He would be lifted up He would draw all people to Himself. (John 12:32)

The purpose of the service is not for us to feel warm and fuzzy in worship or to get an emotional high.  It’s not so that we can hear an inspirational message to live a more successful life.  It’s not to give our offerings or to learn how tithing will improve our bank accounts.

The purpose of the service is to lift up Jesus crucified and to proclaim worthy is the Lamb. (Revelation 5)

All the rest is gravy.  But, if we focus on the other things we get the cart-before-the-horse and miss out of the real thing.  The Real Thing is the Real Presence.  It is Jesus Himself, available for us, redeeming us, offering Himself in our stead.  This message alone should be the center of every Sunday service.

You might miss it in a typical contemporary service. But, you cannot miss it in the Mass.  It is the entire reason you are there.  And the service has been designed so that you cannot miss it.


2 thoughts on “The purpose of the service

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