July 31, 2008

Church Dismissed

1 Peter 2:9-12

Live such good lives among the pagans that … they may see your good deeds and glorify God …
1 Peter 2:12


We have come to the end of our reflections on vertical habits. One way to remember them is to associate them with parts of a worship service. For example, we begin by saying “I love you” to God. When we confess our sin, we say “I'm sorry,” and we get ready for the sermon by telling God, “I'm listening.” Then, when we are dismissed at the end of worship, we say to God, “Send me.” This dismissal is more important than we might think. As a pastor, I often notice that as I give the closing blessing, some people reach for their coats and purses. For them, these final words of worship give them a good opportunity to start making an exit. But there's a big difference between leaving worship and being dismissed from it. At the end of the service, God sends his people out of the church and into the world, where they continue to “declare the praises of him who called [them] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” In some Christian traditions the worship service is called a “Mass.” This word comes from the Latin words traditionally spoken at the end of worship: Ite missa est. These words mean, “Go, you are dismissed.” They are among the most important words God says to us. Anyone can leave a worship service. But only God can dismiss us.

Thank you, Lord, for calling us out of darkness and into light. Help us to live a life of praise in such a way that others will clearly see we belong to you. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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