I'm continuing to have my proverbial evangelical socks blown off by Reformed theology, piety and practice. This time the Reformed yoda comes in the form of Michael Horton. Follow this link and download his 14 or so talks on worship immediately! I'm only at about the third talk in the series, but already, I'm having my categories pummelled and reshaped.
Something which struck me as he spoke was his insistence that we should not attend church to experience 'the liver shiver'. God has promised only to work through ordained means (word and sacrament) and he has not promised the miraculous as a means of growth (note - he has not promised the miraculous). We attend church to feed on Christ through the gospel preached and the sacraments served. We're there on the basis of God's promise to grow us through the ordained means. As a consequence, we won't always feel blessed. We might think we're not getting much out of it, or that our children are bored. Doesn't matter says Horton, as what Christ felt in our place is what matters.
God has promised to bless irrespective of our state of mind. The one who eats the Lord's Supper with tears is no more blessed than the one who's eaten while struggling with a wandering mind. Why? It's about God's promise, not about our worth.
He's the first preacher I've heard admit that sometimes real, authentic word/sacrament church will be boring! Sometimes it will seem humdrum. Yet we meet with the sure and certain hope of blessing through the ordained means. It may not be as exciting as Hillsongs, or "hands-down if you want a coffee" worship, but it's the only way God has promised to bless his people. The irony is that those who attend meetings for other reasons (alter-calls, falling over, eyes-closed singing/eyes-open prayer, shouting of "alavabeer, sheelavashandy") miss out on what God's doing because he hasn't promised to bless these things.
He's promised to bless the means of grace. Church isn't a show, it's a banquet. We come to feed on Christ. Not every meal will feel like dining at a Michelin star restuarant. Our kids won't like the taste of the food all the time. We won't be able to look back at many meals and say, "that one really helped my muscle growth". In contrast, over time, as we feed on Christ in the gospel and through the sacraments we'll experience slow yet marked growth.