May 7, 2011

“Spiritual Disciplines:" The Corporate Disciplines

We have completed our Lenten journey toward the cross of Jesus and now stand on the other side of Jesus’ resurrection. Over the last few months we have briefly shared spiritual disciplines and observed how they become for believers the doors to liberation. In contrast to the inner spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study we also note the outer spiritual disciplines: simplicity, solitude, submission and service. Today we want to remember what some call the corporate spiritual disciplines. These corporate disciplines are confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. Let’s focus in brief on each of these corporate disciplines.

Often in worship, a congregation will confess their sin in a “Unison Prayer of Christian Confession.” What this tells us—and we remember this especially during the Lenten season—is that we are each guilty of sin. This sin-guilt is not only as individuals, but also as a group of people we call the church. Certainly we strive to be God’s people, but we are always reminded that because of sin, we nonetheless need God. Corporate worship reminds us all that we need God and we need each other. It is no accident that this reminder is issued weekly. It is through worship that God guides us and we help guide one another.

Finally, celebration completes the foursome of corporate disciplines. In the end, we are left to celebration for we are thankful for God’s gift of unmerited favor toward us. We call this favor grace. About the only thing we can do with God’s grace is to receive it as a precious gift. Then we celebrate our “God fortune.” Where does one celebrate and call it a “discipline?” We celebrate discipline somewhere in the region that God calls the Kingdom of Heaven.

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