The Christian Gospel The Gospel is the New Testament term for the “good news” of what God has done through Jesus Christ “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:1-4) What does the Gospel mean for us?
The Paschal Mystery “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” I Tim 3:16 “Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Paschal means the “passing over” from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Mysteryin the New Testament means the hidden purposes of God as revealed to His people by faith. God reconciling the world to himself through the life, death, resurrection and glorious return of Christ is the central mystery of our faith, which is praised and enacted at every worship service.
Gospel and Paschal Mystery Gospel and Paschal Mystery are different ways of expressing the same reality • Gospel is the content of the message: intellectual • Mystery is the saving event: dynamic • Christian liturgy and Christian discipleship express the Gospel, and enact the Paschal Mystery O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begottenSon to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrectiondelivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to diedaily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy ofhis resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,now and for ever. Amen. (Collect for Easter Day)
Why Celebrate? “We don’t really do Christmas anymore. We have everything we want all the time anyway.” • How would you respond to my cousin? • Why is celebrating an important part of life? Why is it especially important for Christians? • Do you think it’s more difficult for people today to celebrate? Why?
The Paschal Mystery in Time “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” (Hymn 172) “This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave…How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.” (Exsultet, Easter Vigil, BCP 287) How do you answer the singer’s question? Is this the night? The Liturgical Cycle invites us to experience Christ and his work within our time—the eternally true in the midst of our time.
The Liturgical Cycle: Sunday Sunday was the first Christian festival day (Acts 20:7, Rev. 1:10)—observed weekly by a Eucharistic celebration from New Testament Times Why is it appropriate to call Sunday “the Lord’s Day?” How should we mark the joyful character of this day? On this day, the first of days, God the Father’s Name we praise; Who, creation’s Lord and Spring Did the world from darkness bring. On this day the eternal Son Over death His triumph won; On this day the Spirit came With His gifts of living flame. (Hymn 47)
The Liturgical Cycle: the Seasons The Liturgical Year follows Christ in his redeeming work: Nativity Cycle: Advent, Christmas Epiphany—Christ is awaited, born and revealed to the world Paschal Cycle: Lent, Holy Week and Easter--Christ suffers, dies, rises, ascends and sends His Spirit Ordinary Time: Christ teaches us the way of discipleship Is there a season or festival that is especially important or moving to you?
The Liturgical Cycle: Saints From the 2ndcentury, Christians have kept special days to celebrate the lives of holy men and women (saints)—observe dates of their death with special services • Holy Days: celebrate apostles and other very early saints (Mary, Barnabas) • Commemorations: celebrate important people from different times, ways of life, places who have shown “heroic virtue” Why is it helpful to remember particular Christians on a yearly basis? What saints are especially meaningful to you?
The Liturgical Cycle: Fasts Christians (like the Jews before them) have observed communal seasons of fasting from the 1st century • Friday fast (memory of the crucifixion) • Lent & Advent: fasting as preparation for the joys of Easter and Christmas • Fasting (taking less food) & Abstinence (not consuming certain rich foods—meat, wine) Why do you think fasting has become less common in recent times? How could sincere fasting make us better followers of Jesus? Would better fasting make us better feasters?
The Paschal Mystery in Space Since the 4th century, Christians have gathered in churches for regular worship • Express the purpose of the gathering • Teach the faith in symbol and design • Anticipate the glories of heaven
Christ Church Architecture Discussion What does our building say about the Paschal Mystery?—how is Christ revealed in it? What does our building say is most important about our common worship? How does our building help you focus on God/draw you closer to Him? How is it distracting for you?
The Paschal Mystery in People How does the priest help you to worship God? How do other members of the congregation help you? Our common worship is a dialogue between priest and people • Worship expresses our common baptismal identity—redeemed by God to praise Him • Ordained Celebrant and Preacher embody Christ to congregation, but assisted by lay people in their ministry—lector, chalice bearer • Special dress for worship leaders is reminder of heavenly aim of sincere worship