"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


"an issue of worship"

This is the best thing I've read on the so-called worship wars in a long time. Mark Labberton, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, CA reflects on worship and justice in this piece that you should definitely read. A snippet:

"On a trip to India, I talked to a pastor about reading. He said, "If I save for four months, I am able to buy one Christian book through a discount I am offered. I have never traveled outside India, but I have heard that sometimes people in America buy books and don't read them." He asked with dismay, "Is that really true?" I mumbled something to cover my embarrassment, as I thought of just such books on my shelves.

"For us, it's not a matter of if we have bought books we don't read, but how many. It's not whether we get our children inoculations, but whether we can keep track of the paperwork to prove it to the schools. It's not whether we eat, but how much we eat beyond what we need or even want. It's not whether we have a bed, but what color and theme the bed coverings will be. It's not whether we have a chance to hear about the love of God in Jesus Christ, but which ministry or church or medium we like best. Some people in our own country don't have these choices (a scandal in itself). But most people in America do. Meanwhile, millions in the Southern Hemisphere and in Asia have never lived a single day with choices like these.

"This disparity between economics and justice is an issue of worship. According to Scripture, the very heart of how we show and distinguish true worship from false worship is apparent in how we respond to the poor, the oppressed, the neglected and the forgotten. As of now, I do not see this theme troubling the waters of worship in the American church. But justice and mercy are not add-ons to worship, nor are they the consequences of worship. Justice and mercy are intrinsic to God and therefore intrinsic to the worship of God.

"Our worship should lead us to greater mercy, to costly acts of justice, for those who are the least seen, the least remembered, the least desired.

"Vigorous biblical worship should stop, or at least redirect, our endless consumerism, as our free and faithful choice to spend less in order to give away more. Our community reputation, as Scripture suggests, should be that the church comprises those who pursue justice for the oppressed because that is what it means to be Christ's body in the world. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that it's enough to feel drawn to the heart of God without our lives showing the heart of God."

This essay is an excerpt from his book entitled The Dangerous Act of Worship. I'm looking forward to reading it soon.


Anonymous the librarian said...

Sounds like a potential book study for Koinonia, especially appropriate following our study of Amos and company. Do you think it lends itself to that?

Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:45:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Let's try it. I have some acquaintances who were at Labberton's church, and they were very much of the same mind about Biblical justice issues. I'm guessing it would be fairly readable based on the excerpt.

Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:51:00 PM


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