From the Desk of Pastor Jamie…
As many of you know, I am working toward ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. (Elder is the term we use for a pastor who has been through the ordination process.) There are many steps a candidate must go through in order to be an elder. One of these things is to write a theology of worship. We come together to worship God every Sunday, but what exactly is worship? I want to share part of what I wrote with you and apply this to the Advent (Christmas) Season.
While many Christians come together to worship with their church communities on Sunday mornings, worship is much more than the acts of worship that happen during that service. Likewise, the focus of worship is not the people who are worshipping, but the One who is being worshipped.
My Theology of Worship has largely been shaped by Robert Webber’s book entitled Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative. One of the quotes from this text that has really stuck with me over the years is: “Worship does God’s story.” Webber asserts that “worship is a narrative—God’s narrative of the world from its beginning to its end.” Therefore, when humans (and all creation) worship God, they are participating in the salvific story of God. When we sing hymns together, we sing God’s story about God’s steadfast love. When Christians study Scripture, God’s story becomes tangible in and transforms their lives. Since God’s story encompasses all people and all of creation, worship does not solely occur within a church.
Worship connects us with God and a community that is much larger than ourselves. When we worship, our acts of worship draw us into the story of God. Likewise, when we worship our acts of worship are joined with all of those who have worshipped, are worshipping and will worship God—both on Earth and the saints gathered around the throne.
As we enter the Advent season, we not only retell the Christmas story, but we live out and become a part of this story. We join with the angels singing glory to God. Like the shepherds we are filled with wonder as we witness God who came as a baby. Christ’s birth was part of God’s plan to recreate and redeem humanity and God’s creation. As we celebrate Christ’s birth, we also participate in God’s work of recreating.
P.S. For those who are interested, I turned in all of the written work plus a recorded sermon to be a provisional elder on November 15. (It was about 70 pages!) The Board of Ordained Ministry is currently reviewing it. I will have an interview with the Board in mid-January. Thank you to those of you have encouraged me in this process.