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Preparing for Worship (09/26/10)

Corporate worship is a great thing.  Of course,we can worship God on our own and with our families - and we should.  But there is something special about the people of God coming together for worship (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Thus, we hope that corporate worship is the highlight of your week.  In an effort to help you get more out of worship, we're posting a short preview of the upcoming worship service each week.  Hopefully you'll find this helpful and encouraging.

This week we get to celebrate another baptism - for Evangelin Rose Dowell.  Rather than repeat what I wrote last week, I'll point you to last week's blog post for some information on baptism.

We'll also continue in our series on the Gospel of Mark.  This week we'll look at Mark 10:1-12 - "Marriage and Discipleship."  The first 8 chapters of Mark really hone in on one question - "Who is Jesus?"  But in the second half of the book, Mark focuses in on what it means to follow Jesus.  When we get to Mark 10, Jesus is in the middle of training his disciples to follow him.  And the topics of marriage, divorce, kids, and money all come up.  In preparation for worship, you might ask yourself, "What do these things have to do with discipleship?"

"Passing of the Peace" will be part of our worship this week.  During our time of singing, Mike will stop between songs and ask you to greet the people around you.  This has obvious practical significance - you can say hello to the people sitting near you.  But it also has rich theological meaning as well.  

In the New Testament, as the gospel spread about the Greco‐Roman world, it brought with it a mass re‐orientation of Hellenistic society. Slaves and masters, barbarians and free, Men and Women, were now co‐heirs in Christ and shared food at the same Lord’s Table. What a radical departure from the status quo! This new upside‐down Kingdom brought with it many new customs and practices that supported and reinforced the new Gospel reality. One of the most striking practices we know of ‐ called in traditional liturgical practice, the “Passing of the Peace.”

The custom of the Roman world was that whenever someone of lower class greeted royalty they would either kiss their hand, or their feet, or even kiss the hem of their robe. The early church understood that in Christ all became sons or daughters of a King. This translated to the early church practice of greeting one another with a holy kiss. This was a tremendously subversive act by which the early church proclaimed its presence. Even today there are many cultures that still show the vestiges of this ancient practice.

"Passing the Peace" at New City is a reminder to to us that in the forgiveness of Christ we find equal footing at the Cross – a reality that needs to be celebrated by the gathered community presenting an image of God’s kingdom to the world of visitors and seekers sharing our space and time.

Some texts that show precedent for this kind of thing are - Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26.