Disciples of Christ: I miss you!

I feel so refreshed! I have just spent the last 20 minutes slowly reading through and pondering the Order of Worship services included at the beginning of the Disciples of Christ book "Chalice Worship." In my reading, I was reminded of how much I miss worshiping with a Disciples congregation.

I love the way that when Disciples congregations gather in worship they gather as a community. No one person is in charge or responsible for all of the elements of worship, but rather the whole community comes together to share in the Lord's supper and to put into action their words of faith.

As I was reading through the outlines for worship services, I was reminded of the time of sharing incorporated into many services, in which members take time to hear from each other their praises and prayer requests as well as updates about important events and dates in members of the congregation's lives and ministries of the church. It is so sad, that this is often sacrificed for shortening the length of a service, adding uniformity between services, physical growth, and professionalism.

Then I read about how communion is the central focus, the climax, of the worship service and it serves as a reminder of the gift of salvation offered through Christ and the renewed hope we have in the fact that Jesus wasn't left in the grave, but that Jesus remains alive today!

And then there is that whole component of our understanding that all who are Christians are called to ministry. At the end of the sermon, the pastor invites those sitting in the pews who are interested to come forward and join the church. And in some congregations it isn't until after this invitation has been offered that communion is served, so that these new church members might join in for the very first time in sharing communion with the congregation.

I miss the attitude towards communion in which it is a meal shared by those who have been baptized and accepted their position as a member of the body.

I miss the attitude towards communion in which each member of the body may step forward and serve it to another. Any member might share the words if institution. Any member might recognize aloud the meaning behind the symbolic action.

I miss not only the recognition of Christ's physical body that was crucified, buried, and resurrected, but also the living diverse body of Christ who sits in church pews today and serves outside of the church walls.

I just miss weekly communion with the body of Christ.

I miss the sacred attitude toward the offering, by which the offering is seen as another act of worship, often directly connected with communion. I think the fact that communion is offered weekly adds to the meaning of the offering. How is it that some churches can take an offering on a weekly basis, but not offer communion at the same time? Both are the gifts that we offer, and in our receiving of the communion, we recognize the greatness of the offering of God and by so doing, realize how little our financial gifts are in proportion to the big picture.

In one of the services offered in "Chalice Worship" the exchanging of the Peace, or the symbolic act of reconciliation through the shaking of hands, comes right alongside the communion meditation. What a gift! What true meaning! We aren't reconciled with each other by our own meager efforts, but rather it is through the blood and life of Jesus Christ that we can be unified as one body and put aside our differences and heal our shame! How beautiful!

I really miss communion.

I really miss every member of the congregation being called to ministry and the line between the lay and ordained minister being at times indistinguishable.

I miss the congregation being in charge and responsible to and for itself. This is one reason why I can stand up tall in front of those who are opposed to women in ministry and say that I have been called and it is acceptable by God's standards, because I am not the head of the church, but rather its servant. I am not the authority over the members of the congregation, but rather their sister in Christ and a a fellow-worker. I have been called to serve them and to journey alongside my brothers and sisters in faith. I am not alone in my calling, but I stand with a congregation, a body full of called believers, for this is all of our destiny to serve God wherever we are and to the best of who we are. For me, that includes professional ministry, because I am a teacher and an evangelist at heart, and God has given me a special calling to serve Him both as His child and as one of His ministers.

Thanks for being a member of Christ's body here on earth. Blessings!

Ahhh. one more thought. For Disciples a worship service is complete without a sermon. Mm. Now, that is refreshing!


Fred said…
We never seem to respond so strongly to our "traditions" until we realize how far away from them we have traveled. I would have written a very similar blog four years ago when I returned to my mainline church after years of worship in a free church. It is refreshing to hear your true voice here. Thank you for allowing me to share in it.

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