This will be the last post inspired by Simon Chan’s Liturgical Theology (I promise). To conclude:
The church’s worship is what makes her the church, what distinguishes her from the world. We should certainly seek to be relevant and intelligible to the culture around us, but the church has nothing to offer the world if she loses her distinctiveness. Only in her “set-apartness” (holiness) does she have a gift for the world. True worship of the One True God is that gift. May we practice such worship faithfully.
I think it was N.T. Wright who said that worship is love on its knees, and mission is love on its feet. If that’s true, then we can accept this parody of 1 Corinthians 13, substituting “worship” for “love” (I adapted this from N.T. Wright):
Though we sing with the tongues of men and of angels, if we are not truly worshiping the living God, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. Though we organize our worship services most beautifully, and have the greatest sound system, if it does not enable us to worship the living God, we are mere entertainers. Though we carpet the floor and resurface the parking lot, though we balance our budgets and attract many visitors, if we are not worshiping God, we are nothing.
Worship is humble and glad; worship forgets itself in remembering God; worship celebrates the truth as God’s truth, not its own. True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry about what the person in the next row may be doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.
Worship will never end; where there are buildings, they will crumble; where there are committees, they will fall asleep; where there are budgets, they will add up to nothing. For we build for the present age, we discuss for the present age, we pay for the present age; but when the age to come is here, the present age will be over. For now we don’t see the beauty of God clearly: we’re squinting through a fog, peering through the mist, but soon the weather will clear and we will behold his beauty face to face; now we appreciate only part, but then we shall affirm and appreciate God, even as the living God has affirmed and appreciated us. So now our tasks are worship, mission, and stewardship, these three; but the greatest of these is worship.
Great thoughts. You are exactly right the church must be distingtive.