Yesterday we closed the Escape From Average series with what we call internally a “movement” service.
Rather than a straightforward music set followed by preaching, we had a service flow built around some different worship elements. We interspersed music and prayer within the message itself.
Drawing on something Chris Macedo had taught me years ago, we focused on the biblical idea that for worship to be authentic, something has to die.
In the Old Testament, of course, that was quite literal as a quick tour of Leviticus 3 will show you:
6 “‘If you offer an animal from the flock as a fellowship offering to the Lord, you are to offer a male or female without defect. 7 If you offer a lamb, you are to present it before the Lord, 8 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the Lord: its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 10 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 11 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the Lord.
12 “‘If your offering is a goat, you are to present it before the Lord, 13 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar.
Yep. Death and blood and gore. And seminary classes featuring less bible and more butchery.
But we moved on from that foundation — and the celebration that because Jesus is the spotless Lamb who takes away the sins of the world ‘once and for all’ we don’t sacrifice animals anymore — to talk about other things that have to die. Those included …
Pride — so we had a time of corporate prayers of confession.
Tunnel Vision — so we prayed for one of our Indian pastors.
Isolation — so we sang to and over one another.
Timidity — so April Portrais taught us that hand raising during singing signifies surrender and agreement. Oh, yeah … it’s biblical, too.
Alas, And Did Our Savior Bleed? — yes, yes he did. Our Savior bled and died. So our gathering concluded with communion.
Through it all, my prayer was that people didn’t just learn about sacrificial worship; they leaned into it instead.