|Monday, 23 July 2003|
|Worship as opposed to relationship. Liturgical worship is just that - worship. It is not the essence of the Christian experience. Eucharist is reminder and reception of the mystical graces of God, during worship. The Eucharist may be the focus of the liturgical form of worship, but it is not the essence of the Christian experience. It is religion - religious cultic practices. The essence of the Christian experience is relationship with God after accepting reconciliation with God. Relationship! Worship is part of the relationship, but not the fullness of the relationship. The heart-felt experience with God always begins at the point of need - emotionally, intellectually, or socially. God meets us at our point of need, then, if allowed, He begins changing us into our intended selves - mature, complete, and lacking nothing, full of joy, contentment, and peace, despite our circumstances.
There is a women outside of Big Cup speaking in sign-language. She is wonderful to watch - so expressive.
If our only experience of God is worship through liturgy, we have experienced the form of worship demonstrated through cultic practices, but the danger is that it becomes our only understanding of God and we miss the essence of relationship. Jesus came to reconcile us to God for restored relationship between creature and creator, not to establish cultic worship practices for a religion.
What does it mean to have a relationship with God? I certainly can see in Kendle and Mindy that they have that relationship, and to hear Kendle talk about his experience of God through the liturgy of worship is wonderful and inspiring, but it comes from a place, first, not of a practice of liturgy, but from relationship then expressed in worship through liturgy.
This, I think, is a major accusation of the liturgical church by the Evangelical church - cultic liturgy has taken the place of relationship in many people's understanding and experience of God. To a degree, I agree. I see it. Of course, some in the liturgical church says the Evangelicals live by uninformed emotionalism. I agree with that, too, to a degree.
We fight over who demonstrates the proper relationship with God or towards God, as expressed in faith, praxis, belief... Everyone has to be just like us (me) for there to be a true salvific relationship! There is not the understanding, or maybe 'allowance for' is a better choice of words, of relationship as demonstrated in human form, no matter how imperfect, that the object of relationship is not dependent on our perceptions of that object. Todd, Nichole, and I all have different perceptions and experiences with Dad, as does Cory, Laurie, Tony, and Mom. Yet, because Todd's perception and experience of Dad may be far different than mine does not mean that either Todd or I can accuse the other of not being in relationship with Dad. We both may think the other can improve his relationship with Dad, but we cannot say a relationship does not exist. Many conservatives and liberals accuse the other group of not having a relationship with God, or at least a proper or complete relationship with God, because their experience does not look or sound like their own. So, therefore, it is easy to expel them, have nothing with them, or move away from them, like a parent who rejects a child because he or she finds out the child is gay. Or, like Madeline Murry O'Hare's example when she rejected her son and took his daughter because he became a Christian. The reality is that parents and children are in relationship by a bond that cannot be broken by simply saying, "I am not part of you any longer and you cannot be part of me!" Genetically, they are family, no matter how horrible it may be at the time, no matter what they think or feel. In the same way, the members of the Body of Christ, those who choose to follow Jesus Christ, regardless of their current beliefs because we are all in error at one time or another, are family!
We cannot say to one another, "you do not belong because I disagree with what you think or believe or do right now." God is the sole arbiter of membership in His family, and we do not know the heart of the other person/people. That is why it is important to estimate another's faith/relationship by biblical standards - by love, by the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in his or her life, and not by correct, or rather assumed correct, practices of cultic forms of worship or adherence to a specified belief. Not that we can be relativists, but that once anyone makes the decision to seek after God and follow Jesus Christ, then God brings them into His family, and He is very, very slow to change His mind. If fact, like a mother who never looses her love or faith in her son, no matter what he has done or become, so is God with us.
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