The Lord’s Day, The Church Day, The Christian Day


American Christians emphasize individual over corporate spirituality. One way this is really hurting the Church is in our view of the Lord’s Day. We hear, “Worship isn’t just what you do on Sunday mornings, it’s what you do with every moment of your life.” Many have taken this to mean that corporate Worship isn’t even necessary for the Christian life, as long as one “truly connects with God in a personal and satisfying way.”

It’s true that one’s whole life is to be dedicated to glorifying and enjoying God, but this is different from corporate Worship. “Worship is the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father” (J. B. Torrance, Worship, Community & The Triune God Of Grace). Biblically/theologically, “Worship” is more synonymous with “communion” than it is with “praise.” Ultimately, Worship is what the Community of God does.

The Community or Church of God is a central feature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The direct result of Christ’s atoning death on the cross was the creation of this new community, the reconciling of different persons and people groups in the one body of Christ (see Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians). It’s strange to our ears: “Good News! Because of Jesus, there is a Church!” This will sound less strange to us as we grow in our appreciation for the grace of God seen in one another in the Church. “It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together).

There is a sense in which corporate Worship is “more real,” or “more Christian” than what takes place in our daily lives outside the fellowship of the Church. Corporate Worship is a better place for discipleship and evangelism. Corporate Worship is a better picture of the New Heavens and the New Earth. Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week; that’s why it’s called “the Lord’s Day.” It’s the Day that stands at the beginning of the New Creation. We worship together on the Lord’s Day because it is our Day, the Church Day, because together we are the New Creation. And as such is it the Christian Day. The whole week points to this Day, and the whole week flows from this Day. This is how the eyes of faith see it.

Since American Christians have moved away from this vision of the Lord’s Day, since we don’t see it as truly the Day for real worship, discipleship, community, mission, and service, we are compelled to find other times of the week “to really do those things.” We schedule community groups, bible studies, prayer meetings, midweek services, etc., because we don’t find these in the Church Day. Not really. How many times have you heard a pastor say, “If you really want to get plugged into the Church, you need to come on Wednesday night to our ___ meeting”? And we wonder why we have no time left in the week for friendships with non-Christians…

We need to make better use of the Lord’s Day. We can all probably do a better job of “doing Christian things” together on Sunday mornings. We can refine our liturgy, the order of Worship. More importantly, I think, we need to have a more robust vision of the Lord’s Day. Do you see corporate Worship as the primary place where you learn to live as a Christian? Are the Word and Sacraments where you find strength to live for God in the world? Are you really confessing your sins and professing faith in Christ with your brothers and sisters? Is your giving truly representative of your whole life offered to God as a response to his grace? Is Worship the place where your Christian life finds greatest expression in love and service? Do you prepare for Worship the same way you prepare for a bible study or choir rehearsal? Is corporate Worship the truest place where you live in community with sensitivity toward those who are outsiders? Does it shape your thoughts and conversations for the rest of the week?

The more we can answer “yes” to these questions, the closer we will be to the New Testament’s vision of the Church gathering for Worship on the Lord’s Day. We will value our time together more. We will be more refreshed. We will be thankful to God for his grace at work among us corporately. We will better stand together as unified in Christ and in his mission, and we will be of better service to the world, both during Worship and through the rest of the week.

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