In the past couple of months I've had an opportunity to worship at churches other than the one where I serve. The churches I visited were different from the one I serve at. They differed in almost every area; the people dressed differently (both clergy and lay people), they sang songs that I'm accustomed to in our student ministry but not in our corporate worship services, they used electronic media - the closest we come to electronic media is the sound system and the electronic organ.
I don't have a problem with differences, especially these differences - these are the non-essentials. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that true worship is done in spirit and in truth and its not located exclusively to Jerusalem or any one particular high place. Therefore different is fine.
Except there was one difference that I noted that wasn't fine, that continues to fester in my spirit - where was Jesus?
The worship services were verbally, aurally, and aesthetically devoid of Jesus.
The songs were modern praise and worship stuff that tends toward the romantic/love songs to god. The scripture was used sparingly, a diabetic adds more sugar to their diet than these services had the infusion of scripture. The prayers were addressed to God/god. The focus for the talk was on the church or on the family, yet both had suggested that their formative thesis came from books of today than anything written in the course of history, let alone the scriptures.
Even down to the benediction, or I guess we should call it "the last word" - Jesus was strikingly absent.
One might get the idea that I visited liberal churches, or churches of the mainline persuasion, or maybe a Unitarian/Universalist church. I would guess that even the Unitarians might speak more of Jesus than what I found in these holiness churches.
What is happening? The best answer I've come to is that we're seeing the development of an eccleisology (a church life) devoid of Christology. Jesus is not the originating principle. If he is, he's being quieted, moved to the shadows and I don't understand why.
I wasn't sure who people were encouraged to interact with - except maybe one another. Jesus wasn't invited into the gathering. Jesus didn't have an advocate stand and deliver the good news to hearts thirsty for living water, or the bread of life.
There was talk of deconstructing ones idea of god and church (which Jesus did as a part of his ministry), but no introduction to Jesus.
There was much consternation over major retailers not having "Merry Christmas" as a part of their sales promotions during the month of December. I find little reason to castigate the stores when the thrust of worship services in churches that claim the name of Jesus pay little homage. It's not the stores who need to reacquaint themselves with Jesus, its His Church.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.