We believe that what we do here impacts the rest of the world. We see this taught from the beginning verses of Genesis (2:10ff): the garden/sanctuary is to flow out to the four corners of the world. We see this in the worship of Abraham as the proto-conquest of Canaan, the worship that is integral to the conquest (ie. Jericho), and even the war-Psalms of David. The vision of Ezekiel sees the river flowing out of the temple getting deeper and deeper as flows out into the sea for the healing of the nations (Ez. 47:1-12, cf. Rev. 22:1-2). This means that the aim of our worship here is establishing a culture informed by worshipping the Triune God. We want to eat, drink, sleep, dress, write, run, and breathe for the Trinity and for the healing of the nations.
Love of Wisdom
Our worship is both Word and Sacrament. It is mind and body because Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. This means that we must be lovers of wisdom, lovers of the wisdom of God. We need to be people of words and people of the Word. This means that as individuals and as families we are to seekers after wisdom, hungry for understanding and knowledge. This hunger must be ultimately a hunger for God, but knowledge and understanding in itself without love is hot air and empty pride (1 Cor. 8:1-3).Central to this love of wisdom must also be a disdain for foolishness, a contempt of the cool. What is hip and trendy largely hates God and loves death. The mall wants girls to dress like prostitutes and men to dress like they just rolled out of bed. This is not the love of lady wisdom; this is the love of easy, casual sex. Not only must we stay away from it; we must learn to make fun of it. This is not a call to be rude; this is a call to hate evil and to mock it (Prov. 8:13).
Love of Feasting
Secondly, a culture that is shaped and formed by robust, biblical worship will be a culture of celebration. This does not mean that every meal should be a “Thanksgiving” meal, nor is this in anyway a slam on simplicity, simple means, or even fasting. This isn’t just a call to buy and eat more food. This is a call to joyful living; this is a call to the continual feast of faithfulness (Prov. 15:15). This festal living starts in the home, but it must spill out. Your Sabbath tables should be getting fuller as the years go by, not only with your own children but friends and neighbors whom you invite to share in the feast. The meal that Jesus gave us was a table of fellowship and love that he gave to us to be for the world. Learn to open your homes, your lives, and fill your tables. Not only should we literally feast, but we need to learn to see the world as a table set for us. God created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden and the first thing he told them about was the menu (Gen. 1:29). The world is our banqueting table. This means that whatever lawful thing you see in the world that delights and rejoices your heart is yours for the taking, exploring, and delighting in. Like every meal, begin with giving thanks and then dive in. Physics, sewing, mathematics, book binding, politics, mechanics, theology, philosophy, athletics, housekeeping, writing, organizing, building, cooking: the world is your feast.
Love of Psalms
Finally, music, singing, and the Psalms should be central to the recovery of Christian culture. This means that it is not sufficient to only sing Psalms and hymns on Sunday at church. Paul exhorts the Colossians to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly by singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16). James also says that if anyone is cheerful (Gk. happy/courageous) let him sing Psalms (Js. 5:13). First, we need to recognize that these are imperatives, commands to sing. Secondly, we see that singing is a means to allowing the Word to dwell in us richly and a witness of our joy. We want to build a culture of vigorous psalm singing not as something we have to do but something we get to do. Robust, vigorous Psalm singing is also the answer to any discussion about worship music. The issue is not old versus new, traditional versus contemporary. The issue is the depth, glory, and militancy of the Psalms. Finally, the Psalms teach us how to respond in faith to every situation of life. There is a wonderful appendix in Athanasius’ On the Incarnation where he recounts the words of an old teacher friend who saw the Psalms as able to put words to every circumstance of life (p. 107ff). If we want to be faithful, we must learn and sing the Psalms. The Psalms are the war-songs of our King.
Conclusions and Applications
We are seeking to recover the centrality of worship in all of life. That means principally gathering here as God’s people to worship God in spirit and in truth. But if this is the garden sanctuary, the new temple of Ezekiel, the heavenly Jerusalem, then what we do here must impact and affect what we do Monday through Saturday. It is not sufficient just to say “be good Christians.” The words and patterns of speech and action must characterize your speech and action out there. We are taking the riches of the kingdom out into the world. If you confess your sins here, you must confess your sins there. If you read and hear the word of God here, then you must do it out there. If you sing Psalms and hymns here, you must do it out there. If you hear the word of God here and say ‘Thanks be to God!’ then you must thankfully obey the word of God out there. If you greet one another in peace here, then you must be peace makers out there. If you feast before the Lord here with thanksgiving, then you must be festive out there. If you receive the blessing of God here, then you must extend that blessing to the world.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Concluding Prayer: Almighty and glorious Lord, we know that you have promised to overrun this world with your grace and mercy. You must reign until every enemy has been placed beneath your feet. We rejoice in that hope and promise. Thank you for calling us to be your ministers of that hope and promise. Grant us the grace to live in the patterns and speak with the words of your kingdom.