Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Table Fellowship and an Opening Hymn for the Divine Service

I am convinced from Luke's Gospel that table fellowship is the biblical pattern for the Christian liturgy. Three elements form table fellowship: Christ's presence, Christ's teaching, and Christ's meal. One huge factor in accepting this as the biblical pattern for Christ's people in worship is that the only place Jesus institutes anything resembling liturgy is at the last supper, when he said, "Do this in remembrance of me." By commanding his church to eat his supper, we also get the other two elements of table fellowship, which are his presence and teaching.
One implication of this view is that it totally overturns how we are to view worship! We don't come primarily to give God worship! No, we come primarily to meet with Christ to receive his teaching and his life via the meal! Thus, before we give to others we must be filled and this happens weekly through the means of grace: Christ teaches us (Word), Christ feeds us (sacrament), and we respond in prayer (prayer).
Another implication is that we need to teach this radically Christ centered way of worship. This song I wrote today tries to do just that. I see it as the kind of hymn that we could use at the beginning of the divine service (Jesus' divine service to us!). It is based on Luke 10:38-42, which also has a table fellowship background, and comes after the parable of the good Samaritan that teaches us that we are like the beaten, half-dead man, who needs grace and mercy before anything else. This is what Christ intends to give us in his divine service of Word and meal.
This song can be sung to the familiar tune, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
v. 1
Come to meet with Christ your Savior,
He is Lord of heav'n and earth.
Come receive His grace and favor,
people of the second birth.
Come to hear his law and gospel,
listen to the word He speaks.
For His grace and peace are promised
to the humble and the meek.
v. 2
Come to meet with Christ your portion,
for He gives eternal life.
In our Lord no longer orphans,
in the Father we delight.
As His children come to gather,
'round His table meet with Christ.
With His people eat together,
Christ your portion and your life.
v. 3
Come to meet with Christ who serves us,
for the Spirit Jesus gives.
For without Christ we do nothing,
only through Him do we live.
For before you serve your neighbor,
from the Lord you must receive.
Faith in Christ the highest worship,
prayer the hand of our belief.

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