Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Missional Worship, 3

Smack dab in the heart of the missional impulse is hospitality. By hospitality, I mean making room for the other. This is different than welcoming visitors to church. In fact, God's hospitality is often on someone's else's terms. In the gospel story, God is simultaneously host and stranger. Disciples are sent into the world proclaiming the peace or welcome of God--that is, they proclaim God's welcome on someone else's home court.

Christian worship is rehearsal for this kind of life. This is the drama lived out each week around the table of the Lord. The table is where we learn to welcome one another, to make room for one another. It is the Lord's table, his guest list. We do not choose with whom we eat. All of us alike receive our place by God's gracious welcome. This is our vocation in the world. Making room for the other.

I've told this story before, but my friend Carrie Bonneau heard me present this material at church a few years ago and now has stenciled above her kitchen table, "This do in remembrance of me." Her table is now an extension of the welcome of God she experiences in worship.

In contrast, I once had a visitor tell me that singing was the mutual edification portion of worship from his perspective. But the Lord's Supper was his alone time with God. A time to be alone with his inner thoughts and feelings.

Two very different views of the Lord's Supper. And in many congregations, the practice of the Lord's Supper would better represent the second story, not Carrie's. We have so individualized the Lord's Supper that it is hard to understand it as a practice where we learn how to welcome one another. And because of that, we fail to realize its missional implications, or the connections between Sunday and Monday.

I'd love for people to have the words "This do in remembrance of me," stenciled inside their desk drawers at work, to remind them every time they get a staple or paper clip that their office space might very well be the occasion for God's hospitality. To remember that the person who empties their trash is welcomed as much as the person who signs their checks.

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