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Luke 24 and the Telos Of the Worship Gathering – Transformation for Mission

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Our church is preaching the texts retelling the post resurrection appearances of our Lord. We fit the texts within the lectionary and it has been a great challenge to us all to live new life in the Christ’s post-resurrection reality. Yesterday we preached Luke 24:36-53. This text is a magnificent unfolding of what “the gatherings” of post Easter believers would be in the early church. This text describes what I earnestly seek for our gatherings at Life on the Vine church.

Notice the development of the meeting. It is Sunday … first day of the week … The text says … they gathered (vs 33). Then our Lord .. shared the “peace” saying “peace be with you” (vs 36)… before they even know the depth of what this now means, He shares the new and deep fellowship binding one together in the peace made possible in the forgiveness of sin and new life in Christ’s now accomplished work on the cross. Then they are invited “to see” Him for themselves, to touch, and Jesus eats some food “amidst them” (vs 38). This suggests the Lord’s Table and His presence once again in the fellowship meal. He then opens Scripture … and teaches them and “their minds are opened” (vs45) … Something happens here by His Spirit that illumines things they had not seen or been convinced of. As a result, they see things totally differently. He then pronounces them “witnesses”(vs 48) and tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit.(vs 49). He sends them out for mission.

Something marvelous happens here to the disciples in the presence of the resurrected Lord. Somehow, these disheveled disciples go from “startled and frightened” (vs37), to “doubting and amazement” (vs41) to “worshipping Him with great joy” (vs52) being sent out into the world for mission. A true transformation beyond belief has taken place. They have come, seen, touched and eaten, their minds have been opened by the Word, and they are changed. They leave from this place, in the power of the Holy Spirit, into the Mission of God in the World. This pattern of worship is old as the first centuries. Yet amid the glamour of the mega lecture halls and the pep rally concert halls of evangelical worship, is this not a model for the gatherings of the churches emerging for mission?

I have said in the Great Giveaway, that worship in the modern evangelical church often resembles either a “lecture hall” or a “feel-good pep rally.” That neither one can measure up to what we see here going on in Luke 24:36-53. We must go beyond “information distribution” and/or “feel good self expression” to the recovery of the encounter with the historical reality of Jesus’ continuing resurrected presence in the gathering. It must be a worship that invites us to come, see, touch, eat, open our minds to God’s Word in Christ and be changed for Mission. It requires for evangelicals a reinvigoration of the Lord’s Table, a preaching that unfolds the new reality of the resurrected Lord, a recovery of the sense of supernatural mystery in worship and the supernatural empowerment from the Holy Spirit from which we are transformed and sent out for Mission. The disciples went forward from here proclaiming the saving gospel, busting up prisons, healing the sick, defying the governments, reordering how the world must think about money and justice (think Ananias for instance). Our worship gatherings must likewise be encounters with the living Christ that transform us for missional engagement.

Instead of grand lecture halls, pep talks about what Jesus can do for you, instead of pep rallies which give us an experiential buzz but leave our character untouched, we must instead come, gather, see, touch and eat, open our minds to the Word, and be changed to go out from our sacred places, in the Holy Spirit, into the Mission of God in the World

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