When God called Israel out of Egypt, his express purpose in doing so is that they may worship him (Exodus 3:12). Israel’s national life was built around the Temple; even the king’s palace sat in its shadow in ancient Jerusalem. True and common worship wasIsrael's constitution as a nation. This trend continues to the present day and beyond. When John the Seer got a glimpse of the heavenly realm, the life of God’s angels and saints was still centered on Temple worship, only now that place is a person, the Lamb who was Slain, sitting at the right hand of the Ancient of Days, the Father of radiant glory (Revelation 5:13-14; 21:22).
This reality explains how the New Testament unequivocally maintains that the common confession and worship of Christ is what unites the church. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free” Paul says, “for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Elsewhere, Paul speaks of Christ tearing down the “dividing wall of hostility” which separates the peoples of the earth so that they may all find their unity in him (Ephesians 2:14). If God is up to anything in the world, it is surely this, for he “is in Christ reconciling all the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
So we see how throughout the Scriptures, God unites people around one thing: the worship of him. Nothing in this world has the power to unite than this one thing. Maintaining a common confession and worship is vital if we are to realize, if even through a glass darkly in this age, that unity for which Christ prayed during his Last Supper. Indeed, it is “Eucharist,” a common meal, that gives expression to this reality even as it deepens it. The common worship of the one true God creates bonds far deeper than race, culture, or even family. It does so by God’s own design.
This reality is not so abstract as it may seem. All human companionship is based on a common experience or purpose. For the Christian, what is common is not merely external, but the transformative power of true worship to the one high God. And we become what we adore; what unites us makes us all to be like what he is together.This is worship's power.
Christ Church Anglican is a brand new congregation. A couple years ago, we did not have a common memory and experience of worship together because we did not have a history as a church at all. But as we entered together into the worship of the Crucified Lord this past Holy Week, as we heard his word and sang his praises together, as we gathered together around the symbols of our tradition which themselves point to Christ as the only Lord of the church, something happened to all of us. Having heard from so many of you, I am convinced that the Lord used our liturgy to impress upon us a common experience of worship. He did this not to make us “Anglican” or “sacramental” or anything like that, but to make us Christians united together in in the name of Jesus at Christ Church Anglican. If we are to be a people truly set apart for his purposes in our community, we must keep our common worship central to that task. That is God’s own way of doing things, and far be it from us to stray from his leading.
I don’t know what God has in store for our congregation, but when I see the way he is uniting us around our common worship, giving us all deep bonds forged in a common experience of Word and Sacrament, of praise and thanksgiving, I can hardly wait to see what it is. I think he has his hand on us as a congregation, and I am excited to see what is to come.
Kudos go to the music ministers of Christ Church Anglican for last week’s wonderful series of Holy Week services. Our small but dedicated choir pulled off a feat that is beyond many churches double our size. They and their fearless leader Katherine deserve our sincerest thanks and adulation. Special thanks also go to Deacon Arica Demme and Jim Ferguson for their wonderful meditations on the Word of God on Friday and Saturday. Know that you have been and are being used by God to make a people set apart for his purposes at Christ Church Anglican.
To God Almighty, and to the Lamb, together with the Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor and praise, forever and ever.
And the angels said “Amen!” And the people fell down and worshiped (Rev. 5:14).
- Saturday, April 11: meeting of the Vestry, every second Saturday, at Fr. Adam's apartment at Radnor Crossing, 9:00 am. All parishioners are welcome to sit in on the meeting, and all parishioners are strongly encouraged to pray for the meeting between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 pm on Saturday morning.
- THIS SUNDAY, April 12: we are pleased to welcome Dr. Jonathan Yonan as our preacher and very special guest. His wife Rachel will also be sharing with us her musical gifts on the viola. Jonathan is the Dean of the Templeton Honors College and Associate Professor of History at Eastern University in Wayne. Rachel is the co-founder of the Marinus Ensemble, a passionate group of artists dedicated to engaging audiences through interactive performance of great music, and she also teaches viola at Eastern. Jonathan and Rachel are also parents to Jack, and they are both old friends of Christ Church's.
- Thursday, April 30 - Saturday, May 2: We are hosting the annual Synod of CANA East, our diocese, for the third year in a row. Bishop Julian will preside over a gathering of over 150 clergy and lay delegates from around the diocese. There will be worship, teaching, reception of new congregations, and reports and votes on the work of CANA East. As a very special treat, the Most Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) will be our keynote speaker and honored guest. Volunteers from Christ Church are most needed; all are welcome to the Saturday morning Eucharist and Ordination service at 10:30, at which our own Jim Ferguson will be ordained to the diaconate. More information will be forthcoming.
- Sunday, May 3: Bishop Julian will join us for our principle worship service at Christ Church the Sunday after Synod. He will preach and preside at a service of Confirmation during worship. Make your rector proud by doing everything you can to be present for this service, that we may all show some of Christ Church's famous hospitality to our bishop.