All Saints Church Reads: Reflection by Paul Watkins

Last week we had our first (of many I pray) meetings of the All Saints Church Reads book club.

torranceThere were two meetings: one in the morning at 7 am at the Upper Room and one in the evening at 7 pm at my house. Over 15 people met and discussed the first two chapters of James Torrance’s book Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace.

It is a short book that profoundly explores the depth and grace of the gospel of God! It is a book that leads me to worship and marvel at the grace of God!

The book club will meet again on July 24th (at 7am and 7pm) to discuss the last two chapters of the book. All are welcome!

Paul Watkins attended and wrote this poignant reflection:

“The worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world.” (p. 9)

This sentence embodies the main thesis of Torrance’s book: that we live Christianly by entering into participation with what is already happening within the life of the Trinity.

Acceptable worship is already ascending to God – from our great High Priest in the heavens who ever lifts up holy hands to His Father in praise and thanksgiving; when we worship rightly, we do so only by entering into and taking part in the Son’s worship already taking place.

Likewise, acceptable mission is already happening – climactically in the Father’s sending forth the Son into the world to call all men to Himself, but also in the Son’s sending forth of the Spirit He received from the Father into the world to carry on the same mission; when we do mission rightly, we only do so by entering into and taking part in the Son’s and Spirit’s mission already taking place.

Which is to say, living Christianly does not mean offering worship and mission of our own to God, but in participating in what the Father has already provided for Himself through His Son and Spirit. This is the meaning of “grace.” It is not so much that God gives grace for us, extra nos, and we respond in faith and service for God, extra Deum, as two actions by two different actors playing their parts in turns; rather, our faith and service are nothing other than the faith and service of the Son through the Spirit operative in us, which is one and the same thing as grace itself, as one action by two different actors playing their respective parts in simultaneous, intimate co-action.

So our work (of worship and mission) and God’s grace are not two different things, traded between us; they are one and the same thing, seen from two perspectives. This is why we can never imagine our service to God apart from His grace (Pelagianism), nor imagine His grace apart from our service (radical Protestantism).

So remember, when we worship it is the Son through the Spirit that is worshiping through us. And when we go forth in mission to the world, it is also the Son through the Spirit that is going forth in mission through us.

All that we do, if we do it Christianly, is nothing other than what God Himself is doing while using us as His vessels. It is “not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” Which is to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” So let us be cooperators with the Spirit, and co-workers with the Son, joining them in their worship and mission as we are drawn ever more intimately into the life of the Triune God.

– Reflection by Paul Watkins

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Filed under All Saints Church Reads, Anglicanism, Books, Community, Discipleship, Fellowship, The Holy Spirit, theology, Worship

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