Monthly Archives: July 2009

  • The Lord’s Supper

    The next couple of weeks we will take a look at the topic of the Lord’s Supper. Ironically, the “one” “common” meal wherein Christ’s church gathers to celebrate her unity has served as a massive wedge throughout the history of the church. As we did with our treatment of the sacrament of baptism, we will begin by sketching the different theological traditions and positions articulated by Christians. There are essentially four historic positions: Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Symbolic Memorialism and the Reformed position.

    Transubstantiation is the position articulated by the Roman Catholic Church, teaching that miraculously the bread and wine are changed into the actual body and blood of Christ. As the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent make it clear:

    Ironically, the “one” “common” meal wherein Christ’s church gathers to celebrate her unity has served as a … Read More »

  • Expository Preaching

    In most protestant traditions, the sermon is the focal point of the worship service. The content of the sermon, however, often differs from church to church. This depends on the church’s philosophy of preaching. True, there is no verse in the Bible stating, “Thou shall preach this way.” But there are verses exhorting the elders and the minister to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2) and examples of Paul teaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Because of these texts and others, I have been and continue to be convinced that expository preaching is the best way to remain faithful to these admonitions.

    Expository preaching is the philosophy of preaching that seeks to communicate the message embedded in a given text of Scripture. It presupposes there is a message in the text, and seeks … Read More »

  • Tithes and Offerings

    Holy-rollers. Begging for money. That’s the picture some people have when it comes to the tithes and offering taken up when the church gathers for worship. In one church I served, the pastor was so concerned to avoid the appearance of being a money grubber that he refused to take an offering, opting instead for boxes in the back of the church where the congregation could place their offerings (interestingly enough, the church always struggled for the necessary funds to sustain the ministry). On the one hand, such an approach is laudable and, frankly, tempting. In fact, historically there has always been certain hesitancy about collecting tithes and offerings during worship. Why, then, do we have as part of our liturgy a time when we very publicly give tithes and offerings and why do … Read More »

  • Prayer Of The Church

    While our services are laden with prayer—invocation, prayer of illumination before the sermon, prayer of application after the sermon, prayer before the Supper – the Prayer of the Church is the dominant prayer when we gather.

    One surprise to those who come from low church contexts is that many, though not all, of our elders write out their prayers.

    Historically, what we call “The Prayer of the Church” has been called different things. Some traditions have labeled it “The Pastoral Prayer,” while others have chosen the appellation “The Long Prayer.” Those two designations are helpful because they both get at a definition of what the “Prayer of/for the Church” is and why we practice it. First of all, the prayer is a pastoral prayer. In many settings, the ordained minister offers this prayer every Lord’s Day. There … Read More »

  • The Patriotic Service (or lack thereof)

    Many of us, no doubt, were with friends and families yesterday celebrating our nation’s independence and thanking God for the opportunity to live in such a great nation. Those celebrations will continue today not only around the pool and the BBQ but also in many churches. For example, one local church has an annual “Celebrate America” service replete with color guard, helicopters and indoor fireworks. Likewise, God and country sermons will be disseminating from pulpits across America this morning. In contrast to these our worship service this morning will look the same as it always does. Why is this?

    The main reason is that when we gather, we gather not because of, or even in celebration, of national identity, but to celebrate the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, as we noted in last week’s … Read More »