“Normal” church life has been disrupted by the pandemic, which has given many people an unexpected opportunity to rethink what worship is, and what it’s for.
This week I’ve been thinking about this quote from Gregory the Great (Bishop of Rome, died 604 AD), who is talking about how worship works, and how to worship in spirit and truth: “If the sacrament of the Lord’s passion is to work its effect in us, we must imitate what we receive and proclaim to humanity what we revere.”
We must “imitate what we receive.” Isn’t that interesting? To imitate the body and blood of Jesus is to “take on the form and pattern of Jesus’ death,” as Paul said it to the Philippians. We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice just as Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for sin.
And then we “proclaim to humanity what we revere.” We speak. We allow what has been embodied in us to be proclaimed intelligibly to all who would hear it, calling them into the life we ourselves have received. The shape of “effective” worship, then, can be outlined like this:
- We hear the Word (Jesus in Scripture),
- We respond to the Word (in prayer and surrender),
- We receive the Word (in Bread and Wine at the Table of Jesus), an
- We are sent to imitate and proclaim the Word (in service and witness).
This is nothing new, of course, but it was an interesting angle on it that Gregory’s quote got me thinking about… maybe it’s helpful for you, too, as you think about what it means to worship and be the church these days.