“The people must not be present at worship only in the capacity of hearer and spectator, nor even merely to follow in thought what is pronounced by the minister of the church, but they must also speak from their side and at least they must respond Amen to what is said in the name of the congregation” — Osterwald’s preface to the liturgy of Neuchatel (1713), cited in Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 63n10.
In Matthew 9:35ff., Jesus sees Israel battered and cast down, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he says to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful; the workers are few.”
Why does the imagery change from animals to plants, from sheep/shepherd to harvest/workers? It would make sense for Jesus, seeing the crowds like sheep without a shepherd, to tell his disciples to pray for workers to gather in the flock.
Jakob van Bruggen (Matteüs) proposes that Jesus is speaking, not of workers needed for gathering in the harvest but of workers needed for distributing the plentiful harvest to care for the flock.
I’m not persuaded that explanation really works. After all, “Send out workers into his harvest” is not the clearest way to say “Send workers out to Israel with the food that has been harvested”!
On the other hand, when Jesus does send out his disciples, he returns to the imagery of sheep/shepherd (10:6: “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”) and he speaks, not of gathering, let alone of gathering in a harvest, but rather of giving (10:8: “Freely you have received; freely give”).
I’ve sometimes heard that one of Jesus’ disciples was a Zealot, presumably a former Zealot who, now that he was follow Jesus, had given up his desire to commit violence. Even N. T. Wright says, in one passage, that the name of “Simon the Zealot” (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) “probably indicates known revolutionary tendencies” (NTPG, 174n33).
But it turns out that that’s not true (or at least, it’s highly unlikely). Yes, he’s called “Simon the Zealot.” But that title doesn’t mean he was part of a party called “Zealots.” To the best of our historical knowledge, that party didn’t exist or bear that name until after Jesus’ time.
Most likely, then, Simon wasn’t a member of some party in Israel that was inclined toward violence toward Romans or compromising Jews. What Simon was, it seems, was zealous, and that’s not a description of his life before following Jesus; that’s how he was as a follower of Jesus. He was zealous, and that was a good thing.
The church of Christ, the first fruit of the new creation, expresses in articulate and intelligible words the silent sighing of nature subjected to corruption and waiting for deliverance (Rom. 8:19-23). Its “liturgy” of gratitude for the deliverance received through Christ and for the hope of the manifestation of the glory to come, lends a voice to the entire world.
Christian worship carries to the throne of God, through Christ the supreme liturgist, the praise and supplication of all humanity and of the whole creation — Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 56-57.
“Belief in the Trinity is not a distant speculation; the Trinity is that blessed family into which we are adopted” — Austin Farrer, The Crown of the Year.
All narrow confessionalism and all complacency in any local ecclesiastical tradition must hear the apostolic judgment: “What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:36) — Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 52n9.
In the Lord’s service, we pray together, so that each individual who is taking part in the prayer focuses not on himself and his own needs and interests but on the community as a whole, even if those other needs and interests don’t really move him emotionally much at all.
R. Guardini puts it this way:
He will have to get out of his circle of customary ideas and appropriate a whole world of thoughts infinitely broader and richer. He will have to leave and go beyond the horizon of his own little interests, of small private and personal profits…. He will have to address to heaven some of the requests that do not touch nor interest him directly; he will have to hold up before God these requests with as much devotion as if they were his own, even though they are far from his interests and dictated only by common concern (cited in Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 50).
The point about every single book that I re-read in order to laugh is that every one is so much more than funny because the authors write so well. Wodehouse uses the English language to perfection, Durrell evokes scenes so wonderfully, Nancy Mitford’s prose is so elegant, so arch. One could learn to write from any of them and I wish more people would. No matter what the genre, good writing always tells. Crime novels? Look at Raymond Chandler, master of style. Spy novels? How many do you know who write as well as le Carre? Style wins every, every time. — Susan Hill, Howard’s End Is on the Landing.
“God can be the object of our worship only if he is first the subject, that is, the one who gives us the worship” — Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 4.
Sometimes people talk as if a church building is a waste of space. After all, if it’s used only for the Lord’s service on Sunday morning (and maybe evening), that’s still only one day’s use out of seven. Better, then, to fill it up with other things, rent it out all week long for other uses — do something with it or not have it at all.
Couldn’t one say much the same thing with the empty chair at the table when Dad is overseas with the military? Why have an empty chair? It just takes up space at the table. But that empty chair represents and expresses the importance Dad has in the life of the family and the expectation that he will return and be welcome.
Richard Paquier puts it this way:
When a building is especially and uniquely intended for an encounter between the Lord and his people, it is likewise the customary location of the divine presence; it is the symbol of the divine presence in the secular life of the city. There as nowhere else, the holy word re-echoes regularly; there the sacraments are celebrated. From one Sunday to another, from one divine service to the next, the place of worship is in a state of anticipation. Even its emptiness between times declares its special destination and readiness for the divine presence (Dynamics of Worship, pp. 40-41).
The church is not only the spokesman of Christ the Prophet, not only the organ of Christ the Sacrificer, it is also the army of Christ the King. And something of the royal majesty and glory of the Risen One who ascended to heaven has to come through in the worship of the church. Worship has to reveal partly in its liturgical forms the royal glory of Christ, the triumph and present power of the Head of the church, who was once the crucified, and who is now the living, the conqueror.
By its hymns, candles, the beauty of the ornaments of the sanctuary, and all the dignity and fullness of the divine service, the church makes known to the world that its Lord reigns in the midst of it in his divine beauty. — Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, pp. 22-23.
When the church prays, it is Christ who prays in it. Christ extends his prayer in the church.
Thus all the petitions and praises that the body of Christ presents to God through its members are valuable only when passing through him who is the Head of the body, the Son of God. All the prayers of the church are offered to God “through Jesus Christ our Lord” or “in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ.”
This is why the church must be careful how it expresses its prayers; they ought to be worthy, grounded and shaped in him who is truly “the hearer. The church must give to its prayers rigorous thought, right intention, spiritual fullness, and a propriety of tone and beauty of form that are in harmony with the divine person of Christ and his holy prayer, both in John 17 and Matt. 11:25-27 and in the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. 6:9-13 — Richard Paquier, Dynamics of Worship, 22.