March 21, 2013

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Proclaiming our Faith in Worship: How We Are Tethered to Our Story One of the main reasons we gather as the people of God is to remind ourselves of who God is, what He has done to make us His people, and what it means to live as the people of God here and now. One of the key ways we do this is by proclaiming things that the Church has proclaimed throughout the centuries. When we rehearse these truths about God together, we remembed that we aren't the first ones to travel thie Way, and that we aren't the only ones who are following Christ now. In making these proclamations part of our worship, we keep ourselves tethered to the Story of God and His people. Watch this 2-minute first: Excerpt #1 from Chapter 3 of "Discover the Mystery of Faith": The object of our faith is a Person, not a proposition. We do not place our lives in an idea or a doctrine or a system or a set of values. We place ourselves in the personal God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Proclaiming the creed, then, is an act of worship, not a recitation of doctrine. Faith, after all, is not simple agreement or the acknowledgment of certain propositions or hypotheses. Faith is the placing of your whole life within God, the only One who is faithful enough to hold your life, redeem it, and save it. There is no worship without faith, and there is no faith without worship. It is faith that leads us to worship and worship that enlarges our faith. Why should our greatest, most central and unifying profession of faith, the Nicene Creed, not be part of our congregational worship? ...Early Christians spoke these words of worship and belief in the face of ridicule and scorn, confessed and clung to these words even when...
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Why Do We Confess? Why do we confess our sins? Is it to beg God to forgive us? What are we missing when we don't make room in our worship services for confession? Here is an excerpt from Discover the Mystery of Faith, Chapter 4, "Retelling the Story" A good story requires tension. There must be a conflict or a crisis, something to draw us in, to make us feel and hope and long. The trouble with laying out our worship services in a narrative format is that we’ve forgotten where the tension lies. What is the central tension of the gospel narrative? It is that we, though we long to do what is right and become God-like in our love for others, consistently fall short. We quickly aspire to virtue, for this is what it means to have the imago Dei. Yet we discover our limitations right away, and this is what it means to be fallen. We are good but fallen, or fallen but good. Either way, we cannot be who we hope to be. That is, without Christ. The gospel story doesn’t leave us in our hopeless state. God comes to us in Christ, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, being for us what we cannot be in ourselves. This is what we call grace. It is the most beautiful word in the world. Yet our services, though they may praise grace and teach on grace, don’t often lead us to experience grace. Why? Because the story we tell lacks tension. We don’t bring people to the cliff. Our sermons leave people saying, “Wow. That’s a great insight (or a powerful principle). I’m going to try that this week.” Try that this week? When the apostles preached, people were cut to the heart, crying out, “What must...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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