May 25, 2010

Thought for 05.25.10

Worship without mission is precious at best and scandalous at worst.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

And, btw, I disagree with those who cleverly turn the phrase around and harp on "mission without worship." We have it on good authority that a deed of kindness and love done to others, even in total ignorance that they are "Jesus in disguise" will not go without its recognition. Mission to the poor and outcast is worship, for in serving them we serve Jesus. And this from a liturgist!


Tim said...

I'd be careful there if I were you, friend. If folks actually listen and think about what you're saying, a lot of clergy will have their job security on the line. :)

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I know what you mean, Tim, and I know that effective worship is a help to mission, and can be an inspiration to action. But all too often it seems to become a substitute, or worse, an obstacle. Who was it who recently dissed "social action" as if irrelevant to faith? The Prophet Beck? That seems to me to be so wholly wrongheaded, and opposite to Jesus' warning that it isn't in calling him, "Lord, lord," that we find our true selves, but in serving others.

Grant said...

Sometimes I think the notion of worshiping is a bit foolish. Honestly, if God is indeed God, then God has no need to be worshiped. But God clearly wants the created order to exist because it wouldn't exist without God's desire that it do so. So working for or supporting creation (mission?) seems to be a much more rational way to please God.

In other words, I agree. Mission is worship. The Liturgies are rather like the gas station. Done right they give us glimpses of the power/beauty/majesty/simplicity/etc. of the Divine Reality to help fuel or further mission. The "worship" (i.e. liturgies) is really for us. It's the mission that's for God.

Actually, I've been struck by a sexual image for this. Unfortunately I don't have to poetic skills of Solomon, but I'm going with it anyway. Liturgy is like foreplay. It gets us excited, turned on by the spirit. And God must think, "Hey hey, they're feeling it. I think I'm going to get some satisfaction." The mission is the consummation of the thing. If our religion stops at the end of the liturgy, we're leaving God all hot, bothered and disappointed. How selfish.

(Now, I'll not drive this analogy any further.)

MarkBrunson said...

The worship isn't to satisfy God's need, but ours. God doesn't need reminding Who is God, but we do.

Erika Baker said...

I take it you mean corporate worship.
And I would like you to define "mission" a little closer.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Grant. Good image. If worship does not empower for mission in the world (as we are "sent out" at the end from the "missa" to the "missio"), if worship becomes an end rather than a means, it can be a sort of self-satisfied communal solitary vice.

Erika, there are shades of meaning. The "great Mission" is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Worship itself can do that -- but it can only do it for those already part of the household. The sending-forth at the end of the Mass is the "outgoing ingathering" -- and the works of mercy, education, justice and charity put flesh on the bones of our religious living. Ultimately the issue I'm getting at is, "How do we honor God?" God takes no pleasure in the sacrificial offerings, certainly doesn't need them, and calls for those other external acts towards others. I expounded on this a bit in a sermon of a few years back.

Tim said...


I am in complete agreement with your statements. The passage from John doesn't say "Do you love me? come to mass" or "pray the rosary" or even "put an extra fiver in the plate". Its about feeding sheep.

In my experience, liturgy serves, as Grant points out, to refresh and recharge us. It also permits us to encourage and support one another as a good community should. further, it serves to educate and inspire towards further reflection. All of that is good and right and proper, but classroom study prepares one for real-world work and it is perilous to confuse the two. It is the real-world work which we are called to do.

To love everyone (including God and yourself), don't do bad and to do good for the sake of good. Sounds so simple, ya?

John-Julian, OJN said...

Sorry, friends. but I worship God because God exists -- I do NOT worship God "in order to.....anything else".

Sorry, Tobias, but I truly believe that liturgy IS an end-in-itself -- it is NOT some second-hand, utilitarian means to something else!

It is also absolutely inevitable that having truly worshipped God in liturgy, I will be "driven" BY THE LITURGY ITSELF (and the Holy Spirit) to serve others and take Christ to the world. But that is NOT what the liturgy is FOR! The liturgy is to reinforce my consciousness of my union with God in Christ -- and, therefore, to drive me to be more Christ-like.

The Eucharistic liturgy is a ding an sich, not a tool to obtain something better, greater, more "Christian" or whatever.

You will recognize and act on the mission IF you have good worship, but you will NOT get good worship simply by doing mission.

And I have staked my life on that! said...

thank you, Tobias, for stating what is, for me, the obvious. I agree that the liturgy is the re-membering of us in the body of Christ. We go out into the world fed for the journey each day presents.

Good to discover your blog.
Pam Strobel, GTS '98

Grant said...


I was reminded of this post just now at another blog, so posted a link to it in the comments over there:

It's an interesting project by a journalist who's interested in being a religionless person of faith.

Anyway, thought you'd like to know you're sort of cross posted over there.

Also, having looked back at this, I find myself quite liking what John-Julian says: "The Eucharistic liturgy is a ding an sich, not a tool..."

OK, peace be with you all!