A few days ago the most recent copy of “Reformed Worship” arrived on my desk.  I skimmed through the articles on worship, dressing the space, on the Ascension…all good, as usual.  Then I was brought up short, reading from beginning to end an article by James K. A. Smith titled, “Sanctification of Ordinary Life.”  I am keen on this subject, as I think that young people today are interested in this kind of ‘spiritual life.’

Smith writes:

Christian worship gathered around Word and table is not just a platform for our expression; it is the space for the Spirit’s (trans)formation of us. The practices of gathered Christian worship have a specific shape about them—precisely because this is how the Spirit recruits us into the story of God reconciling the world to himself in Christ. There is a logic to the shape of intentional, historic Christian worship that performs the gospel over and over again as a way to form and reform our habits. If we fail to immerse ourselves in sacramental, transformative worship, we will not be adequately formed to be ambassadors of Christ’s redemption in and for the world. In short, while the Reformers rightly emphasized the sanctification of ordinary life, they never for a moment thought this would be possible without being sanctified by Word and sacrament.

Embedded in this intuition is a helpful, even prophetic, corrective to our triumphalist tendencies. The Reformed vision of cultural renewal can breed its own sort of “activism,” a confidence in our work of cultural transformation. In fact, we can sometimes become so consumed with “transforming culture” and pursuing shalom that our well-intentioned activity becomes an end in itself. We spend so much time being the church-as-organism that we end up abandoning the church-as-institute. Not only do we emphasize that all of life is worship, we come up with self-congratulatory quips that look down on worship as “pietistic,” as a retreat from the hard, messy work of culture-making.

~ James K. A. Smith Reformed Worship, March 2012, no. 103, p. 103.

The author is able to put into words my own sense of the importance of corporate worship, as he says, “Sanctification For Ordinary Life.”

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