Spirit, Word and Sacrament
An Ancient Faith, Reaching a New Generation, Lived in Holy Community
Ever thought about the purpose of the church? We have... a lot. And we're convinced that there is really only one. Take a close look at the definitions of "purpose" and "task" just below. We believe that they fit together-- support one another. And we also believe that making the distinction between the two is powerfully important when it comes to healthy worship and healthy churches:
pur●pose [pur-puhs] -noun task [tahsk] -noun
Etymology: to propose. Etymology: a service to the Sovereign.
1. the reason for which something 1. a definite piece of work assigned to, or expected of a person.
exists or is done, made. 2. a piece of work to be finished within a certain time.
2. an intended end; aim; goal.
This Community has one
divine Purpose: Worship.
Worship is the source of this
community’s spirituality and it
fuels our divine Tasks: Making
disciples and walking out our baptisms
in the world around us.
At Emmaus, we want to help people remember why they were born-- to worship-- and we really believe, with all our hearts, that if we lift up Jesus, then He will draw all people to Himself. At Emmaus, we have several tasks that include making disciples and loving the world as Jesus does. And we have one single purpose that fuels it all: worship.
When you stop and think about it, the dictionary definition for "purpose" is beautifully compatible with the biblical definition of worship: It's our chief, intended aim-- our life's goal-- and it's the very reason we were born. And the definition for "task" also seems exactly the right way for thinking about the functions of the church: They are time-sensitive assignments-- acts of service-- for a Sovereign!
Sometimes even when churches have noble tasks, like making disciples, they can end up doing those tasks in their own strength if worship doesn't come first. Remember the scene in Matthew 28 when Jesus gave the "Great Commission"? How can we go and make disciples if we don't first go to Jesus for commissioning and sending? Those things happen in worship-- And it is in His strength that we go forth into the world to love and serve the Lord.
So, what's worship like at Emmaus?
It's powerful and its transforming! Some might call it "three-stream", where evangelical, liturgical, and charismatic elements come together, but in some ways it really defies description. It's not seeker, or contemporary, or traditional alone-- our worship endeavors to use the whole palette of colors from the whole of Christian history to paint the grand story of God and the way He calls us to participate in His purposes for the world. You'll find that it's saturated in Scripture and prayer.
And the Worship Space? Our worship space, like our worship, is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ, with the Table of the Lord right in the middle of our gathering-- the body is gathered in concentric circles around the Eucharist. Worship at Emmaus features the historical Christian content of Word and Table each time we come together.
What about the Lord's Table? Sometimes people ask about our understanding of the Eucharist, or the Sacrament of Communion. While we don't hold to a transubstantiation view, we joyfully embrace the mystery that Jesus Christ is especially and uniquely present at Table through the power of the Holy Spirit. The bread and cup are not merely empty symbols. When we gather in faith weekly around the Table we believe that Christ Himself stands among us in His risen power.
Our name, "Emmaus", is taken from Luke 24:13-53...the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection, walked with them, he opened their eyes to the Scriptures and their hearts were warmed and he broke bread with them. The Table is where we ask God the Father to send the Holy Spirit to make the elements at the Table become for us the body and blood of Christ. In trying to describe what is ultimately an undescribable mystery, we affirm the words of one great theologian who said, "I would not so much understand it as experience it." We also take time, as was the custom in the early church, to "linger around the Table" for prayer, especially healing prayer.