snippets from the early church

Strange how much you can miss something that you were so ready to put away when you had it, isn’t it? The past month or two, I have ached to be back at seminary wrestling with some of the ideas I grappled with there. I miss those discussions.

One that has been on my mind a lot lately concerns worship in the church. Last December, I was at the tail-end of a class that focused on reading a lot of documents from the early church. One point that writers in the early church often emphasized was that worship is sacrifice. You come to worship, not to receive, but to give. In giving you do not “change” God, meeting some need of His or filling some want that He lacked. Rather, as you worship, you find yourself changed…turned from impure to pure, from faithless to faithful.

Interestingly, worship in the early church was oriented primarily around the Lord’s supper. Their understanding of worship was informed by how they understood what was happening at Communion. They understood that we offer back to God only what has first been offered to us. Christ’s body and blood, which is the only acceptable sacrifice before God, were represented by the bread and the cup of wine. It was, and still is, only by his body broken and his blood shed that we are cleansed. Thus, the high point in the worship service in the early church was when the bread and the cup were held up by the church above everyone’s head. We hold these up as the only meritorious sacrifice before God, believing, and find forgiveness and cleansing.

So, this week as you worship, consider worship a sacrifice, and then remember who you’re lifting up as worthy before the Father.

posted by: caleb


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