More from Jim Jordan on worship.
1. Love makes things beautiful
In this section Jim Jordan argues that love for God will cause us to beautify the various parts of worship. This includes our dress, the Communion table, the pulpit and the entire sanctuary. One area that needs a lot more work by conservative, protestants is how to make the places we worship sanctuaries where the beauty of God and his world is seen. Too often our sanctuaries feel like a shopping mall or a theater. If there are decorations they are usually not linked with anything in the Bible. One positive sign has been the emergence of cloth banners in churches. They perform the same service as stained glass windows did in early periods. They make the sanctuary beautiful and tell of who God and/or what he has done.
2. Worship should be dramatic
“Worship is drama…The liturgy is theater performed by all of us before God. Thus, entering, kneeling, standing, clapping, eating, etc. are all aspects of drama. We don’t need to have little skits during the sermon in order to have drama in worship! After all, what on earth is more dramatic than being called into God’s presence, kneeling to confess our corporate sinfulness in Adam and our actual daily sins, being sealed again into His community by absolution, standing to praise Him with vigor, hearing the ‘orders of the Day of the Lord’ from the Commander in Chief, giving Him our gifts, sitting down to dine with Him and being sent out, commissioned by Him to service? It shows great poverty of thought to imagine that we need to have skits in the sermon, when we have these dramatic treasures to employ.”
3. Worship comes in the context of death.
“The Bible says that the gospel comes to those who all their lives are subject to the fearfulness of death (Hebrews 2:15) Death is the primordial punishment and the last enemy. Death suffuses human life, rendering it cheap and miserable. This is a fact that no amount of positive-thinking Pelagianism can make go away…It is the pastoral ministry of the Church and only the Church that can deal with the fact of death…The fact that the gospel comes in the pastoral context of ministry in the face of death is absolutely destructive to two of the most virulent forms of modern gnosticism. It is destructive to ideology, the promotion of Christianity as a set of ideas to be implemented through a crusade. It is also destructive to the ‘prosperity and happiness’ message so often promoted by the media-gnostics over our airwaves…The gospel is good news for real people hurting in real life situations. That is why modern gospel songs are so inadequate. They present a ‘happy gospel’ without the context of pain, enemies and death.