I have the privilege of leading in corporate worship almost every week, and I know how easy it is to forget what we’re there for and what we’re supposed to be pointing to. We can get lost in the shuffle of arrangements, keys, transitions, and intros that we forget that these are all means to the end of proclaiming the glory of God’s wonderful work of new creation, centered on the person and work of Jesus. Let’s just think a bit about the many elements of a worship service, and how they point to new creation…
The Spirit is the sign of the new creation, and corporate worship is a gathering of indwelt people celebrating the new resurrection life that is rooted in Jesus life and work. We come to adore God’s greatness in song, acknowledge both our brokenness before him and how we have sought after life apart from the new life he provides. We receive words of assurance that he is for us because of Christ, and we respond with gratefulness and love. We hear his word proclaimed and by the Spirit’s power it affects our hearts and forms us into the image of the second Adam. We receive communion which symbolizes the new covenant in Jesus’ blood and we witness baptism as a sign of new creation.
If our services contain these elements on a regular basis, we will be making our people aware of the bigger picture of new creation. This is the story we have all been caught up in. It’s bigger than our personal experiences, our church, or even our specific generation. This story spans infinitely backward and forward, from Eden to the New Eden, from the first Adam to the New Adam, from our election in the mind of God before the foundation of the world to our glorification for eternity in the new heavens and new earth.
Everything about a Christian worship service ought to be pointing to the surprising, undeserved, and gracious acts of God on our behalf for his glory. We need to do this for fellow Christians who are struggling in their walk, as well as unbelievers who are still dead in their sins. There ought not be any room for self aggrandizement, showmanship, or distraction, for these things drag us back to our selfish worlds with us at the center and death reigning as king. Let us instead participate together in the new life God has secured for us and point others to its compelling power!
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.