missio dei (updated. again.)

i mentioned an “igniting” conversation at panera yesterday.  it was mostly centered around the concept of church and how different it is from what jesus intended when he said “follow me”.  imagine a story in the gospels where one of the disciples said to jesus, “lord, i think i’m going to the temple today and taking a day to sing songs about you.”  sounds pretty normal for this day and age, but in fact, jesus said: “follow me”.  as far as i can remember he never asked for praises resembling our modern praise/worship time – in fact i can remember very few times people simply fawned over him and he actually allowed it.  I can just imagine jesus looking at them (like so many other times) and thinking, “really?? do you still not get it?…ugh…i’m asking for actions, not words!”  A thoughtful friend made the wise statement that scripture makes a very strong argument for the value of worship.  But perhaps the question one must as is: ‘What is worship?’

i’ve had a few conversations with folks via internet and in person since i originally posted this and i’d like to go back and clarify/requestion some things.  because clearly i don’t have all the answers.  and quite frankly, i just love the conversation. this morning a friend and i discussed the fact that many psalms and several rounds of praise are mentioned in scriptures, but as far as we can tell, most of them were praises of the moment – worship that happened to take the form of song describing their gratitude or commitment in that circumstance as opposed to a pre-written song that you’ve sung so many times you hardly notice the words you’re singing.  there’s a creative genuineness about a song you write/sing in the moment.  much like the creative genuine act of mary annointing jesus’ feet with oil.  but, like i noted below in comment, i don’t think he would have condoned it becoming a regularly practiced thing.  but i’m certainly not any sort of expert – i’d love to hear your thoughts concerning this discussion.

Personally, I feel most “worshipful” hiking, camping, biking, walking (anything out in nature) as well as the quiet times in my room painting/building art, and the hours i spend “researching” (for lack of a better term) the wonders that baffle me.  These are the times that i have no choice but to sit back and think, “holy crap!!  god is way bigger than i can possibly fathom!  he’s so good, so creative, so loving, so faithful, so forgiving….and only he truly knows how much forgiveness  i need on a regular basis.  guh….i am not worthy and it only makes me that much more grateful.”  usually ‘worship’ comes down to my head and heart repeating,  “thank you thank you thank you thank you….”  no other words seem necessary or even worthy of my heart’s humble gushing in those moments.

The book/author/speaker that began the discussion is named Michael Frost.  [and by “began the discussion” i mean that someone started talking about a book they were reading and a conversation spun from it.  not that any of these thoughts, in particular, are part of michael frost’s theology]   My buddy recommended Exiles and The Shaping of Things to Come.  A wise and humble friend of mine is currently reading his book ReJesus.  There are links below to talks he did at a conference he spoke at concerning ‘church’ and the inseparable  concept of mission.  You certainly don’t need to agree with all of it, but it’ll definitely get you thinking.  And thinking/critiquing/honing thoughts and theories is a valuable pass-time.

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11 Responses to “missio dei (updated. again.)”


  1. 1 Bonnie April 16, 2009 at 6:04 am

    I just received Frost’s latest book “ReJesus” in my Amazon order the other day. POWERFUL, WONDERFUL, DEEP.

    Now I just need to DO it.

  2. 2 Aaron J April 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I see what you’re saying and agree, but the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with oil in John 12 is one of those times he affirms worship. In fact, Judas even asks Jesus why she didn’t sell the oil & give it to the poor…and Jesus rebukes him “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

    Obviously He wasn’t saying to never serve or love the poor, but He also didn’t reject her worship and adoration.

    • 3 calaismarie April 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      aaron, that’s a really great point. it was actually one of the “few” times i had in mind when jesus allowed such adoration. and maybe the distinction lies in the fact that it was a singular act of worship. it was what she was lead to do at the time and it was her particular way of saying “thank you thank you thank you.” but imagine if, because this was a good thing once, mary decided to start doing it once a week. and then because it worked for mary to do it every thursday night all of her friends started doing it thursday night. and then before long they were all just going through the actions and the act of annointing jesus’ feet with oil every thursday was simply something they DID rather than something that was a natural outflow of gratitude for his grace and love. thoughts?

      • 4 Aaron J April 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm

        sorry it took me so long to respond, Calais! i appreciate you taking the time to write back. i agree with what you’re saying here.

        i’d love to talk more about this…hard for me to formulate the words via a comment though. we’ll have to meet up soon.

  3. 5 Momma April 20, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
    As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

    The above is from Psalms 84:5-7. True worship to me has become setting my heart on pilgrimage.

    Definition of the Valley of Baca (Ps. 84:6; R.V., “valley of weeping,” marg., “or balsam trees”),
    probably a valley in some part of Palestine, or generally some
    one of the valleys through which pilgrims had to pass on their
    way to the sanctuary of Jehovah on Zion; or it may be
    figuratively “a valley of weeping.”

    I like the part in the definition that it was a valley that pilgrims had to pass on their way to the sanctuary. It was where they prepared themselves to enter the sanctuary.

    Maybe worship is whatever it takes for “you” to prepare yourself to enter the sanctuary. This preparation opens up wells of living water that start flowing in your life. My journey to that sanctuary that brings the up wells of living water that in the autumn become pools causes me to go from strength to strength til I meet Him in that sanctuary. As I sing the words of certain songs I remember His promises, I dwell until I am overcome with the majesty of that promise. Up comes living water that causes me to go from strength to strength until we reach that inner sanctuary, holy of holies with him. Each of us has to find our own way to go in. The important thing is to be on that pilgrimmage….seeking to go to that Holy of Holies.

    My thoughts…but, no pressure for them to be your thoughts. Love you.

  4. 6 Eric Foster-Whiddon May 5, 2009 at 5:42 am

    Calais – I found your blog through your mom… she’s a friend of mine in Moultrie. I thought I’d jump into this conversation though we don’t know one another.

    I applaud anyone who is actively seeking to follow God even at the expense of tradition. I love your friend Paul’s insight on the value of tradition, especially that which spans many many generations of faith. It is ALL about following, and sometimes following means walking away from some things…

    I believe that Scripture gives a strong basis for the value of worship. The real question is this – what is worship, really? The problem is when our answer to that question is the modern conception of a Sunday morning “worship” service. It doesn’t take much critical thinking to realize how off-kilter that concept is. Community is important and corporate adoration can be a very good thing. However, when that is the primary and, for many people, only way that your life can be identified as a worshipper and disciple of Christ, we have major problems.

    My main thought to add – the heart of what you’re communicating is right on. It’s not an either-or situation. We don’t have to jettison corporate worship in favor of justice and mercy in the social arena. However, one definitely reflects the heart of Christ in discipleship more than the other and, unfortunately, it’s the one that is most lacking in Christianity today.

    • 7 calaismarie May 5, 2009 at 9:02 am

      eric, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. i agree – scripture puts a lot of value in worship. and perhaps you’re right – we should be taking the time to ask what that really means to ‘worship’ and then fostering that within the church rather than getting off so easy as 30 minutes before a sermon once a week. maybe questions are the key in general. we should encourage one another to ask questions – the why’s and how’s of life, of love, of christ and his kingdom. being a believer sparks a lot of those, after all.

  5. 8 WesHoward June 29, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I believe that worship is actions done when loving God or loving others as ourself.

    Unfortunately, it’s the second part that we tend to bail on and focus on the loving God part. Thus we get the 30 min worship music followed by the 24 minute message… and that’s that.

    I believe that living in community is the way we were designed to live. A sharing of items, ideas, etc. I say this as I type on my MacBook in the comfort of my bedroom with a HDTV on the wall. Not to say that we shouldn’t have nice things, but to let you know that I fail at this as well.

    Action…action…action.


  1. 1 today « out on a walk Trackback on April 16, 2009 at 5:30 am
  2. 2 Speechless « out on a walk Trackback on May 6, 2009 at 8:02 am
  3. 3 when people find out you’re an artist « out on a walk Trackback on June 22, 2009 at 9:41 pm

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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
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