Let us go forth in the name of Christ. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. Let us bless the Lord. The Deacon or the Priest says this part. The People always respond, Thanks be to God. We use the words, Alleluia, Alleluia unless we are in the Church season of Lent as a part of the Dismissal. Some churches are also creative in the bulletin with the line - The worship is over. Let the service begin.
I remember as a child my thought was basically, thank God that's over with. It was just a silent thought and not a verbal expression. I was not that blunt but happened to teaspoon of culture to keep quiet. My simplistic and sarcastic understanding of church was that it was about an hour of time to get over within the context of a beautiful building. We heard the Bible, listened to a sermon, sang some hymns, ate flakey bread and drank wine. And then left. I was missing a key component of the dismissal - the and then left part of the service.
So much of my beliefs were a compartmentalization of faith. There were things that happened in the holy place of the church. It even had a different feel to it than other indoor and outdoor spaces. There were other things that happened outside of the holy place of the church. In my mind, there was no connection of one to the other. I went to church, and then I left. Ticket punched. That was the end of that.
What do you do after you leave? It is a complex issue. We are not human doings. We are human beings. I have a Master's Degree in Divinity, as well as 25 years of ordination to the priesthood but still cannot make this a simple spiritual subject. Here are some questions for all of us to consider: What did you hear in the Scripture texts and in the sermon? What did you sing in the hymns? What did you experience when you went to the Altar to receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?
It is still a complex issue that even the correct answer will not be able to resolve. Faith, however, is not about correct answers.
Faith is more experiential than academic. For instance, I am a strong supporter of Mission Trips. When you go in peace to love and serve the Lord, you never know where that will lead. Will you go on an International Mission Trip? Will you go on a National Mission Trip? Will you serve the mission needs of this local community? In the midst of the mission, the singular of you becomes the plural of we. When we, as the church community of Good Shepherd, go and serve other communities, transformation occurs. Pounding nails, working in a food pantry, staying at a homeless shelter together transcends theological and even political views.
We worship together. We go out into the world together. Where will that lead us? The only way we are going to find out is to do it together. When the worship is over, then the service begins.