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Tuesday, December 15 2020

This is #42 in Crossing the Threshold series.

I would like to bring this series to a conclusion with a few after thoughts and an invitation. First I would like to make note that this series of notes came from teachings I did numerous times which were recorded and are on the “Teaching” page of this website. In these notes I skipped over one week entitled Sacred Time and Sacred Place; for those interested in what day of the week Sunday is and the church calendar I would recommend listening to that talk. One of the quotes I used that week was by Robert Webber from his book Ancient Future Time:

“I am of personal opinion that the true meaning of Sunday worship has been lost in many of our churches. In some communities Sunday is revival, the day for the seeker, or the day to teach. Historically Sunday is the day of God’s re-creation, the day that promises that God will renew the face of the earth. Historically Sunday worship expresses three truths: It remembers God’s saving action in history; it experiences God’s renewing presence; and it anticipates the consummation of God’s work in the new heavens and the new earth.”

I think this last sentence is the best description of what Christian worship is all about. I believe in the very beginning of the Book of Acts as the first disciples met (Acts 4:12), this is what they were doing…remembering God’s saving action of sending His Son into the world to redeem it, experiencing the renewing presence of the triune God in the Holy Spirit, and anticipating the consummation of God’s work in the new heaven and earth.

In Crossing the Threshold I have laid out the life of Jesus Christ in the story which touches all hearts the Hero Journey, for he is the one true savior of the world. I have taken the stages of Christ’s life and laid them over a traditional Christian worship service to show how the early church was entering into and experiencing the very life of Christ in Sunday worship. They were being gathered out of the ordinary world, crossing the threshold into the special world of his presence, remembering in word his saving action, and experiencing his presence and anticipating his return in sacrament and then returning to the ordinary world with an invitation for all to enter “The Great Dance”.

“The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made….Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? But how is he to be united to God? How is it possible for us to be taken into the three-Personal life?...Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ…The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”(C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity)

My invitation to you is quite simple: go on the hero Journey with Christ next Sunday, enter into the pattern and take your place in the Great Dance for which you were created…Blessed is He. Amen

Posted by: AT 09:17 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, December 13 2020

This is #41 in Crossing the Threshold series.

Act III Return

The third act of the Hero Journey finds the hero returning to the Ordinary World with something he has gained from his adventure. It can be a treasure, a lesson, or an elixir for healing; whatever it is, it is not just for the hero but for the Ordinary World as well. As we have said the Hero Journey is the life of Jesus Christ; after his ordeal of the cross and his resurrection from the dead he ascended into heaven returning to his Father’s house with redemption accomplished. Heaven and Earth have now been united in Christ, and he has poured out his Spirit so that his body can become the living temple filled with the glory of God, thus fulfilling the prophetic promise of Habakkuk 2:14, For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

For the worship journey we have been on, following the life of Christ, Act III is the sending forth of the church back into the world. Having ascended into the presence of Christ in heaven and been fed in word and sacrament we return to our “ ordinary world” filled with his Holy Spirit who is the treasure…the elixir of healing not just for us as individuals but for the world. We are to be for the world what Jesus was to Israel, as the Father sent him so now he sends us (John 20:19-22).

Posted by: AT 10:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, December 10 2020

This is #40 in Crossing the Threshold series.

 The first part of Act II ends with the confession of sin; in most traditional services this is a corporate confession followed by the proclamation of a minister’s absolution reminding the church of the finished work of the Cross. In the Hero Journey this stage is called the ordeal and it is where the hero hits bottom and has to face his greatest fears; he must die a type of death in order to be born again. As we weave the Hero Journey and Worship together it should be evident that the ordeal/confession stage is far more than a rote recitation of a liturgical prayer; rather it should be the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person heart after hearing the word of God in scripture and in sermon. It truly is a coming into the inner most cave of self and seeing what is left of the old creation and have a willingness to ( confess) die to it, in order to be transformed into the image of Christ.

Act IIB Initiation/Sacrament commences with the receiving of a reward. For the hero on his journey there is usually some type of reconciliation to be experienced after having passed through the ordeal. In the worship services we have been following, “the peace of Christ” is passed after confession. Peace with God has been affirmed in confession and now that peace is to be manifested one with another ….or another word to use would be reconciled one to another. This is absolutely critical for the next stage of the journey is the “road back” where in the worship service the church makes her ascent into the very presence of her Lord in heaven, she does this as one body.

Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, and the Mass are all terms used by different denominations to describe the sacramental meal the body of Christ participates in by receiving bread and wine. The one thing that can be agreed upon about this meal is that it looks back to Genesis 1 and forward to Revelation 21 and brings the union with the triune God that was and will be into this moment to experience now. It is the life of the new creation much like the manna in the wilderness was for the Israelites as they journeyed to the Promised Land. In the Hero Journey the road back is followed by resurrection, what better word could there be to describe the sacramental meal that Jesus himself instituted for his disciples?

Posted by: AT 11:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, December 05 2020

This is #39 in Crossing the Threshold series.

The second act of the Hero Journey is divided into two parts; descent and initiation, as is the second act of worship; word and sacrament. I think it will become abundantly clear why the two parts of Act II should never become separated; they are two parts of one act. 

Act II commences with the crossing of the first threshold as the hero descends further into the special world. At this point he is fully engaged, committed to the adventure and the story really takes off. In worship having entered into the courts of heaven with praise and thanksgiving, having been equipped with the word of God which has been read, the congregation is ready to begin its own descent and cross the first threshold going deeper into the kingdom with the sermon. The fact that your heart just went thud shows how much of the story has been lost….so we need to pause here and exercise our imagination.

I want you to place yourself in a company of soldiers on the front line of an imminent battle in World War II. Your commanding officer has orders he believes are accurate when suddenly a messenger with a word from the highest command breaks through enemy lines informing him it’s a trap (This is the plot line of the excellent movie 1917 by the way). Wouldn’t it be good to know this vital information?

The sermon should be viewed as a message from the High King of Heaven carried by the Holy Spirit to the Pastor who with his/her congregation is on the front lines in a very real spiritual battle informing them of what they need to know….now.

This part of the service has to be seen in this context for the church’s mission is to implement Jesus’ victory of the cross in the world. The sermon contains orders; the creed is our response, a willingness to receive and obey; the prayers of the people are the weapons we engage with, and at the very bottom of our descent is the inner most cave of confession of sin and absolution. We are to be holy people; royal priests who die to self, pick up our own cross and follow the King.

https://www.movieglimpse.com/1917https://www.movieglimpse.com/1917https://www.movieglimpse.com/1917https://www.movieglimpse.com/1917

Posted by: AT 01:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, December 03 2020

This is #38 in Crossing the Threshold series.

We have finally come to the climax of our series Crossing the Threshold and will begin to weave the story back into worship. We want to see using our imagination the whole story instead of simply going through motions of ritual which we process like pieces of information. More importantly we want to see with the eyes of our heart the person who is the focus of our worship; the one in whom all of ourselves; body, soul, and spirit ought to be centered as we enter his presence. Lastly we want to enter into his Kingdom, his story, his life and have union with him in order that we might be transformed into his image. This is what worship is all about…. so here we go.

We have seen there are four parts to the Hero Journey which is the life of Jesus Christ; the four Acts are: Act I Separation, Act IIA Descent, Act IIB Initiation, and Act III Return. This is his life, his story, his journey it is all about him.

We learned there are four “Acts” to the early church pattern of worship which has been carried on through most Christian denominations, they are: Act I Gathering, Act IIA Word, Act IIB Sacrament, and Act III Sending. This is the life, the story, the journey of his body the church, and it too is all about him.

Act I Separation/Gathering

Just as the hero receives a call to adventure to leave his ordinary world and enter the special world; the church each Lord’s day is invited to leave the world of space, time, and matter and be gathered together to enter the special world of the Kingdom of God….to enter His presence. Refusal of the call is always a possibility; one does not have to go and can remain in the ordinary world or one can go physically but not mentally ; there are always threshold guardians who pop up desiring to subvert the journey and prevent the body from connecting with its head. This is one reason why prayer in preparation for worship is not an option it is a vital necessity.

The opening songs of praise and adoration, along with prayers and the reading of scripture are all led by the Holy Spirit; he is the teacher, comforter, mentor given to the body of Christ to come along side and help them cross the threshold into the presence of their God and King. Just as in the Hero Journey the mentor gives the hero a special weapon; ….the word of God is…sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The reading of the scripture in a service is powerful and serious, the Holy Spirit is speaking individually and collectively to the congregation with words they need to know for their lives and their mission.

Posted by: AT 10:01 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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