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Worship and mission reinforce and reflect each other. Worship flows out to witness, and witness to others leads to thanksgiving and praise for God's new order – His Kingdom and people (Rev 7:9-10).

At the centre of this story is the cross and our participation in this through the Lord's Supper. Christian mission must point to the cross and seek to celebrate this mercy and grace in acting out the wonder of the story through the Lord's Supper. Out of this flows the mission of God entrusted to us to pass on to others. The 'wow' of the cross ought to lead from confession to 'worship' and then to 'witness'.

This movement in our week counters all other movements that seek to mess with us in terms of our allegiances and our purpose – the worldly liturgies that centre on the self, on instant gratification, on living in the 'now'. How are we to be shaped or reshaped – to be fit for service? Through worship that leads to mission and mission that leads to worship.

 

Our gatherings ought to unfold with a call to worship, reminding us that God is the gracious initiator. It's not about whether we have chosen to come to church or not today. It's about receiving a word from the God who is active in worship and wants us there. This is countercultural, displacing the priority of self and our desire to have the world available to us on our terms. The call to worship is a reenactment of the primacy and sovereignty of the Creator. It's a call to be renewed in our focus and habits by the one who redeems us in Christ by the power of his Spirit.

Having been called into God's presence and informed again by his grace, mercy and truth, we become aware of His holiness and our sinfulness and thus we are led to confession. Confession is a practice that re orients us. What is lost when we do not practice confession is the counterformative aspect of the gospel that pushes back on secular liturgies of self-confidence that, all week long, are implicitly teaching you to 'believe in yourself'– false gods of self-assertion that refuse grace. The practice of confession is a great way of reforming our lives. The moments of confession are immediately met with the announcement of the good news of forgiveness and cleansing in Christ. This is its own countercultural practice that pushes back on the hopelessness and despair of a consumer gospel that can offer only goods and services, not true peace.

We then enter the listening part of worship hearing the announcement of His words that channel us into ways of life that are for our good, that lead to flourishing. We listen as we hear God's Word proclaimed finding ourselves making the biblical story our story. We see ourselves as characters in the drama of redemption.

This leads naturally to a time of communion. We are invited to sit down for supper with the King. There are no special seats or V.I.P boxes. The Lord's table is a place of equality and justice that point toward a re ordered future. Here is a meal that feeds our deepest longings and satisfies the greatest human hungers.

Having been invited into the great story and activity of God – re-shaped by the Holy Spirit in confession – and having been re-created in Christ, counselled by his Word, and nourished by the bread of life – we are then sent into the world to take care of creation and make disciples of every nation. Worship that does not culminate in sending has lost its focus.

So, we are sent out to be an active part of God's creation as living, breathing 'images' of God. We bear his image by carrying out our mission to cultivate creation and invite others to find their humanity in this story. Thus, worship concludes with a benediction that is both a blessing and a charge to go, but to go in and with the presence of the Son, who will never leave us or forsake us – to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Russell Thorp
GC3 Missions Director
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