Monday, April 19, 2010

The True Mass

There has been a glorious instinct throughout the history of the church to use the Great Commission at the end of the liturgy to remember what the Lord Jesus calls us to. We are not merely done at the end of the worship service. We are divinely dismissed and sent out. We are commissioned. We have been summonsed here by the King to receive His orders, to renew our allegiance to Him, to feast with Him and be assured of His care of us, and to receive His blessing. And then we are sent out to carry out His mission in the world. In the ancient church the liturgy ended with the pastor saying, “Ite, missa est,” which means, ‘Go, you are dismissed or sent out.’ But it was this final phrase ‘missa est’ that eventually morphed into the name of worship known today in Roman Catholic churches as “mass.” The name of the service came to be called by its final words, the declaration that the people were dismissed, sent out. And this recognizes that the entire service is a “missa est;” the entire service is a dismissal or better, a commissioning, a sending out. We are gathered here week by week in order to be scattered, in order to be sent by our King into the world. We gather here to eat this one loaf and drink this one cup to be strengthened in the body and blood of the Lord, in order that we might be broken and given for the life of the world. You are coming to this table now in order to be sent back out to love and die for your wife. You are being fed at this table now by the risen Christ in order to be sent back into the world to respect and honor your husband. You are being nourished here by your heavenly Father that you may be sent out to love and nourish your children in the Lord. You are all being gathered here in order to be sent out to be Christ to your neighbors, to your roommates, and to your enemies. This is the mass, the true mass, the sending out, the commissioning of your King, our Lord Jesus. So come: eat, drink, and then go.

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