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Chapter 1 Summary: What we do is not only (or even mostly) fueled by what we know, but by what we love and desire. Whatever we love we worship. What we worship is evidenced by how we habitually act, not necessarily what we think. Our doctrine could be right, but our habits say something different. Our habits are not only something we do, but they actually do something to us by shaping our loves and desires. Thus, to have our desires and loves reformed, and to close the gap between head and heart, we need to faithfully change our habits and reject “cultural liturgies” that seek to form our habits in a worldly way. This is done by immersing ourselves in the rhythms of the local church and finding our ultimate meaning and identity within the grand story of Scripture.
Chapter 2 Summary (Sorry no audio): You are what you love, and you might not love what you think. We often commit idolatry without realizing it, and the reason is we have no idea what kind of habits are shaping our hearts. Smith calls these formative liturgies, which are “rituals which are loaded with the story about who we are and what we’re for (p 46). Holiness isn’t all about discerning what is true and what isn’t. We are first and foremost lovers, and if our actions are overwhelmingly governed by our unconscious habits, then intellectual threats may not be the most important. Not all sins are conscious decisions, it’s the de-formation brought about by bad habits that often fuel idolatry. The solution then is to reform our deep desires by taking a “liturgical audit” of your life by asking these questions, “What are the things you do that do something to you? What are the secular liturgies in your life? What vision of the good life is carried in those liturgies? What Story is embedded in them? What kind of person do they want you to become? To what kingdom are these rituals aimed? What does this cultural institution want you to love?” We then see the importance of formative Christian liturgies that we may have resisted or even denounced.
Chapter 3 Summary: If our loves can be disoriented by secular liturgies, it’s also true that our loves need to be reordered by counter-liturgies – embodied, communal practices that are “loaded” with the gospel and indexed to God and his kingdom. This is of course found in the local church, or should be.
We have to train our hungers. Just like the food industry pumps high fructose corn syrup into everything to make you crave it more, so our existential hungers may also be trained by without us realizing. We may not realize the ways we’re being covertly trained to hunger and thirst for idols that can never satisfy. You can’t just think your way to new tastes.
To reform our desires, we have to commit to practices that may be uncomfortable, like spiritual disciplines that are both private and corporate. Christian worship is the feast where we nurture our new hungers and are filled and a workout where we train ourselves to hunger the right things. Christian worship trains us to be citizens of a new kingdom. The Spirit of God meets us between the gap between head and heart with the concrete practices of the body of Christ. The ordinary is where it’s at, not lightning bolts and lasers, but the word and the table.
The reformers wanted to recognize God as the main actor in a service, and the people simply receiving his actions by faith. Church service ought to be an interaction between God and his people. It starts with God, and because God has graciously condescended, we respond. It can’t be all about what I do for God. It’s not all expression but formation.
So, repetition is ok. We tell the same story every week through the lens of the text the best we can. It’s not a bottom up creative expression, but should be a top down response that forms us. “In a formational paradigm, repetition isn’t insincere, because you’re not showing God something, you’re submitting. (pg 80)
What Story are you in? Whatever that answer is, that will affect your habits and desire. For example, the telos of Consumerism is “to acquire stuff with the illusion that I can enjoy it forever.” The telos of Christianity is found in Rev 21:1-4. Our prayer ought to be echoing Jesus when he says, ” Let Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This isn’t an escapist vision, but a reparative one of God’s actions that work through us.
So what are we here for? To enjoy God, to worship him, and to live in response to his grace. Worship makes us more human, guiding us to our main purpose and vocation. Christian worship invites us into the story of redemption, and since we are moved more than we are convinced, our imaginations play an important part in moving us. It calls us to imitate and show that following of Christ, that this deep faith reflected in our prayers and songs, is all possible. It has the ability to resonate and convince us in our hearts that this story is true. Here are the movements of worship according to Smith…
Gathering: Call to Worship begins with God, just as we are called into being by God we are called into new life by him. After being called into God’s presence we become aware of his holiness and led to confess in song/prayer/reading. Confession is met with forgiveness, which is also countercultural because it offers true peace, not just goods/services
Sending: Benediction, or charge at the end of the sermon.
Thus worship is at the core of discipleship, because it forms us in to the image of Christ.
Example: Confession. Megachruch movement removed it because it’s not seeker friendly to talk about your sin, however deep down that’s what people need, it’s the most “seeker friendly” thing you can do is to provide a way to confess (James 5:16).
We need to do by feel what cannot be done by regular conscious thought. It takes time and practice, but the ultimate goal is that our new nature becomes the more natural one we live into.
Just because we talk about corporate worship being a means to discipleship doesn’t mean that it’s limited to Sunday Morning. Discipleship needs to become a way of life, and that includes how we live at home. We must be attentive to the “liturgies of the home”, or the rituals and rhythms that constitute the background hum of our families and should consider the goal we’re shooting towards. This takes reflection and slowing down to really give this some thought. Smith says on page 127, “you might have Bible verses on every wall in every room of the house and yet the unspoken rituals reinforce self-centeredness rather than sacrifice.” Things like family worship, prayer, devotions, and purposeful celebration of events on the Christian calendar are a few ways we can arrange our homes around the story of the gospel. We teach them to see the glory of God, we help them mourn both their own sin and the brokenness of the world around them, and teach them to celebrate God’s grace. We don’t have to do it alone, but disciple children within community. The idolization of the family as an autonomous unit can certainly be its downfall. Marriage is the same. Instead of two autonomous people becoming celebrities on their wedding day, marriage is a ceremony that corporately calls the couple to sacrifice for and love each other for the glory of God and his kingdom.