This morning our worship gathering had a pretty laid back feel. Musically we scaled things back using two guitars and percussion. It was nice to sing some Christmas carols and the simpler arrangements enabled the gathering community to focus on the familiar words and melodies.
Message wise, I utilized the outline of Ross Douthat’s op-ed piece, “Ideas from a Manger” (December 21, 2013, NY Times. In this article, Douthat’s outlines three different worldviews that one could take away from the Nativity.
A Biblical Worldview: Many Americans still take everything: They accept the New Testament as factual, believe God came in the flesh, and endorse the creeds that explain how and why that happened. And then alongside traditional Christians, there are observant Jews and Muslims who believe the same God revealed himself directly in some other historical and binding form.
A Spiritual Worldview: But this biblical world picture is increasingly losing market share to what you might call the spiritual world picture, which keeps the theological outlines suggested by the manger scene — the divine is active in human affairs, every person is precious in God’s sight — but doesn’t sweat the details. This is the world picture that red-staters get from Joel Osteen, blue-staters from Oprah, and everybody gets from our “God Bless America” civic religion. It’s Christian-ish but syncretistic; adaptable, easygoing and egalitarian. It doesn’t care whether the angel really appeared to Mary: the important thing is that a spiritual version of that visitation could happen to anyone — including you.
A Secular Worldview: Then, finally, there’s the secular world picture, relatively rare among the general public but dominant within the intelligentsia. This worldview keeps the horizontal message of the Christmas story but eliminates the vertical entirely. The stars and angels disappear: There is no God, no miracles, no incarnation. But the egalitarian message — the common person as the center of creation’s drama — remains intact, and with it the doctrines of liberty, fraternity and human rights.
Worldview matters! The lens through which we view the Christmas story has huge implications. I love what Steve Garber says about the importance of developing a worldview: “The challenge of the contemporary person is to form a worldview that will be coherent across the whole of life because it addresses the whole of life: from sexuality to politics to economics to the arts, from local commitments to global responsibilities.”
Here are two questions for reflection: how does your reading of the Christmas story impact the way you view the world? Is it big enough to address to address the whole spectrum of life?
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-15
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Scripture Reading: Luke 2:15-20
- What Child Is This?
- Video: The Christmas Question (Floodgate Productions)
- God With Us (Jeremy Camp)
- Announcements and Offering
- Message: Ideas from a Manger
- Light of the World (Matt Redman)
You can learn what other faith communities experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.