I recently read an article by Brent Peterson, who is a Nazarene Theologian, and who teaches Worship Instruction and Liturgy at the Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Mid-West. He had the most interesting perspective of worship for the church I have ever heard. He states that "Once a week God breathes in the church (inhales), He gathers his breathe, for instruction, proclamation and an encounter with the risen Christ (the Eucharist)....only to breathe out (exhale) the church into the world to be Christ broken body and spilled blood for the redemption and salvation of humanity." For me this is beautiful image that relates God to humanity in and organic way....that is inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling...literally breathing...we become the breathe of God to the world.
Genesis tells us that God created humanity and then gave humanity animation by breathing on the man and the woman. God's breathe is ultimately what gives us life and it is what seperates us from the animals. The patristics believed that this was the image of God...God's breathe...in humanity. The church is the life of the world, the church is the literal body of Christ and it is only through Christ we can be saved, that the world will be saved. I believe we have a great responsibility to the world as Christ body an we cannot fully be Christ Body without gathering for public worship.
So many people today who refer to themselves as Christians are really what John Wesley referd to as "Almost Christians". There is a list of things that make up the "almost christian" but the one I want to address is those who do not attend public worship services. In order for the believer to be prepared to be breathed out as life giving air and not the kind of air that comes out of a bag of potato chips when it's first opened, they must attend the life giving gathering of the saints.
In worship the believer encounters the risen Christ, first through the proclamation of the Word and then through the Eucharist (Christ is both...word as proclamation and word and sacrament). This is my case for the regular celebration of the Eucharist, of Holy communion, because we need to not only hear the word, but receive it, ingest it, consume it, have it to dwell in us and since we're not going to start eating the pages out of our the bibles anytime soon, the only way to do this is through the Eucharist. Communion is a sacrament, not an ordinance. An ordinance is a "rule" that must be observed in order to remain in good standing the authority...that is, its a law. A Sacrament is an encounter...it is humanites encounter with the divine...that is, it's grace.
It is impossible to be the life giving breathe of God without a weekly dose of God, with out a weekly encounter with the divine. So to all those "Christians" out there who say....I go to Church on TV...I watch Joel Osteen....or I watch Joyce Meyers on TBN....you are "almost Christian"...keep trying, keep seeking and pursuing salvation...I bet you'll find it at your local community of faith. Oh...and I suggest the United Methodist Church...I really love what they believe.
Grace and Peace,