Monday, July 08, 2013

Two Movements: Into and Out of the Sanctuary

This week I have my students thinking and writing about the different ways the Anglican church engaged the culture in the 19th century. The Oxford Movement, with its emphasis on the "church gathered" and the importance of gathering in worship to "be the church," sometimes had reservations about the Evangelical movement and its commitment to social action, the way it was "being the church" within the world. (This would be the second generation of the Evangelical revival, folks like Wilberforce and his Clapham friends.)

The distinction drawn, for the sake of the question, is purposefully overdrawn for the sake of compelling thought and discussion. Of course the higher church folk often engaged the culture "in the world" in specific ways, and of course the Evangelicals didn't cease to gather in worship to remember who they were. It's more a matter of emphasis, of looking at where each found its firmest understanding of who they were and where they stood. But it's a good question and a perennial one: what does it mean to be church, and how do we best relate to the world around us with fresh gospel energy?

So during my morning quiet time, when I came across this passage in Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book, I just had to chuckle:
 "The task of liturgy is to order the life of the holy community following the text of Holy Scripture. It consists of two movements. First it gets us into the sanctuary, the place of adoration and attention, listening and receiving and believing before God. There is a lot involved, all the parts of our lives ordered to all aspects of the revelation of God in Jesus.

Then it gets us out of the sanctuary into the world into places of obeying and loving, ordering our lives as living sacrifices in the world to the glory of God.  There is a lot involved, all the parts of our lives out on the street participating in the work of salvation."

Two movements. Into the sanctuary, out of the sanctuary. Both involving the same kinds of actions: listening, loving, obeying, believing, ordering, giving God glory. Both involving all parts of us. Amen. Yes.

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