Archive for the 'Reformed Worship' Category

When I Became a Christian

February 5, 2009

Indeed, in the testimony of faith, three answers can be given to the question of when I became a Christian. Firstly, I have been a child of God from all eternity in the heart of the Father. Secondly, I became a child of God when Christ the Son lived, died and rose again for me long ago. Thirdly, I became a child of God when the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of adoption – sealed in my faith and experience what had been planned from all eternity in the heart of the Father and what was completed once and for all in Jesus Christ. There are three moments but only one act of salvation, just as we believe there are three persons in the Trinity, but only once God. We may never divorce any one from the other two. So Jesus commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel and to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Of these three moments, the second is the decisive one in the gospel of grace. Christus pro nobis prior to Christus in nobis. “Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come.”

James B. Torrance, Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace (76)

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The Sabbath

January 8, 2009

An Unexpected JourneyI am currently reading An Unexpected Journey by W. Robert Godfrey. The section that has struck me most is where rtrcGodfrey writes about the importance of the Sabbath in the Reformed tradition. I have also recently read Recovering The Reformed Confession by R. Scott Clark who makes similar arguments about the importance of the second service in Reformed churches as part of reverence for the Sabbath day.

Being brought up in the evangelical church I had been accustomed to going to church on Sunday for a morning service and then coming back for an evening service. Absent to me was any reason that Sunday was the day that one went to church or why one went to church on the first day of the week. An outflowing of this evangelical philosophy is manifested in offerings of Saturday worship services, Friday worship services, or whenever one can fit a worship service into his/her busy schedule.

Clark writes that the creation narrative “has the effect of saying that time and the calender as we experience the are not mere conventions, but rather they are grounded in the creative will of God.” Of the seventh day, Dr. Clark writes:

“It is not too much to say that it, rather than the length of days, is the point of the creation narrative.” (299)

Godfrey notes that “the Sabbath is not just a Mosaic institution, but a creation ordinance and a picture of the consummation.” Therefore, the importance of the Sabbath predates the Mosaic laws. The coming of Christ does not do away with Sabbath observance as Sabbath observance is not only due to the Mosaic laws. God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day as example of how we as creatures should model our lives.

Godfrey writes further:

“When we recognize that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, we begin to see a beautiful element of God’s redemptive work in human history. We see how the seventh-day Sabbath pointed forward to rest that would come at the end of work. The Lord’s Day on the first day of the week points to rest already won in Christ.” (49)

As an evangelical on the road to Geneva I find it encouraging to see the reverence that these two men have for God as evidenced in their arguments for respect for the Sabbath.

Calvin the Liturgist: How ‘Calvinist’ is Your Church’s Liturgy?

December 2, 2008

Calvin’s service opened with the minister entering, positioning himself behind the communion table, and saying: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

A call to confession of sins and an appropriate prayer followed. In Strassburg he used an absolution at this point in the service (“To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, I pronounce absolution in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”); in Geneva he replaced the absolution with a statement of forgiveness. The singing of the first table of the Law, followed by a prayer and the singing of the second table, concluded the service of confession.

As the people sang the second table of the Law, the minister entered the pulpit (in later years Calvin conducted the entire service from the pulpit). The minister then led the congregation in a prayer for illumination, concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. The singing of a psalm, a Scripture reading, and the sermon followed.

Calvin’s service ended with collections for the poor, intercessions, singing the Apostles’ Creed, brief pastoral encouragements, singing another psalm, and the Aaronic benediction.

Read more at Reformed Worship.