Rehearsing the Gospel
Hello Church Family,
Chelsea and I enjoy canoeing more than any other hobby. There is something serenely beautiful about being on the water, slicing the calm with the paddle, hearing the ripples skirt along the boat. As much as Southern California allows us, we try to get out and keep our strokes and skills in practice. Canoeing requires repetition, and canoeing well requires keeping this practice in a regular rhythm. Knowing the strokes and learning how to “read the water” is all incredibly useful information, we’re intentional to grow in those areas and thankful when we do. However, it is the practice, the consistent rehearsal of canoeing that makes this an enjoyable hobby rather than a burdensome workout.
I would propose the same is true of most skills. Whether it is practicing your golf swing, painting a landscape, planting a garden, or building a picnic table, repetition and practice are the driving motions of learned concepts. You could watch a hundred videos on how to throw a curveball, but the theory alone will not produce a great pitcher.
In Paul’s letters, specifically those to the Colossians and Ephesians, we receive a vision for living the Christian life in community. Regularly rehearsing our faith in Christ together. Paul invites the church in Colossae to “take off” their old self, identifying the earthly manner in which they once walked, and to instead put on love. He writes:
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
As James K. A. Smith says, “putting on Christ takes practice” and isn’t it true that we tend to move toward what our hearts truly desire? Jesus seems to affirm this reality as he asks his first disciples, “What is it that you seek?” or “What do you really want?” (John 1:38) and similarly when he thrice asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21). This call to put on Christ, to put on love, could be the habituating or rehearsing of our new identity, being in Christ.
This is my desire for our weekly gathering as Northpoint Church. I long to gather with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for the very purpose of:
– putting on love,
– letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
– putting on thankful hearts,
– letting the Word of Christ dwell in us,
– teaching, correcting, and warning each other in wisdom,
– singing psalms and hymns together,
– giving thanks to the Father in Christ.
I have recently become fond of employing the word liturgy in a more broad application. A lot of the time when we hear “liturgy” our minds ping back to “high church,” smells and bells of Catholicism, or rites and rituals of the Episcopalian church; but the term liturgy most simply refers to a particular arrangement of service or practice.
Chelsea and I have certain liturgies we perform when we canoe: we take the canoe off our car in a certain way, enter the canoe a certain way, paddle together in a particular rhythm, stop and proceed using certain set steps, and so on.
Similarly, when we gather to worship, our desire is to rehearse the reality of our identity in Christ. We have liturgies that aid us in practicing this “putting on the character of Christ”. Perhaps you have even identified these rhythms in our corporate worship:
– we recognize God’s perfect, holy character and his creating power,
– we recall the fall and remember our past rebellion and our present sin,
– we celebrate and embrace Christ as our atonement and redemption,
– we anticipate the future day when all will be made right and we will dwell with Christ himself.
Whether we rehearse these truths and respond to God’s goodness in song, reading, hearing the word, partaking in communion, or celebrating God’s grace in baptism, we desire to habituate bearing thankful hearts in Christ and finding our identity, both individual and collective, in Christ. Amidst all these things, we receive God’s grace, wisdom, and revelation in his Word. We respond in thanksgiving, and we feast on the Bread of Life together.
There is immense value in our gathering weekly to “put on Christ” together. Putting on Christ takes practice, and it can only be rightly done in the presence of other believers. My prayer is that our Sunday gatherings would grow us and aid us in our love for God, our hope in Christ and our dependence on his Spirit.
Director of Worship