I was going to share this on Instagram, but I think this is too personal to make a TLDR version of.
I think that if you have talked to me enough, you’d hear me say that “to serve the poor is the most basic form of worship”, but also “to know God is the most basic form of worship” and that “the Eucharist is the most basic form of worship” which seems like a contradiction, because how can they all be most basic at the same time? So, I’m gonna try to show how both acts of love and holy communion are the core of understanding God. I’ve talked about both topics separately and on their own before, so this will be a summary and recap of it.
Part 1: Knowing God
Christianity is an orthodoxical religion, meaning that you identify with the religion based on your beliefs, rather than practice, which would be an orthopraxical religion. This is important, because we believe that the key to living the most complete and whole life is not in the things you do, but the quality of your thoughts. This is a belief we share with the Buddhists and Muslimin, that we are “Saved by grace through faith… not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This means that every action you do in worship is valuable not in and of itself, but because it is an extension of your valuable decisions; decisions to act on your understanding of God’s will. Our basic beliefs, in the holiness of God, sinfulness of mankind, and salvation through God’s sacrifice, received by grace through faith is a universal belief shared by all branches of Christianity: Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Nontrinitarian and Esoteric. These 4 basic beliefs are a commonality, because they ARE the definition of Christian. There are no set of works that can replace the fundamental role of a heart set on knowing God, holding on to these basic beliefs and structuring your life decisions around them; a house “…built on rock” (Matthew 7:24). To know God is worship.
Part 2: The Eucharist
Now dramatically, “When [Jesus] himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.” (N.T. Wright). We worship in that we know God, but before we even hear the name of Jesus,
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” – Romans 10:14
How do we know the story of the Gospel? I suggest to you now, that the way Jesus intended for his message to be preached is with the Liturgy of the Eucharist (aka the sharing of Holy Communion), and that all other preaching, ritual, song, hymn and psalm is only a secondary extension of the Eucharist. The whole drama of the suffering servant king from heaven, the essence of the gospel is summed up in the Words of Institution:
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Practice this, meditate on its meaning, and you will surely understand the Gospel, and know the heart of God.
Part 3: Serving the Poor
Now practically, Jesus is not just a story, he is a person living among us.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:37-40
This is not Jesus trying to act humble like a politician shaking hands with the coffee shop uncle; this was his childhood. Jesus was a carpenter’s (like a modern day contractor) son, born in a (like an SPCA dog kennel), spoke Aramaic instead of Hebrew or Greek at home (like our Hokkien Lang), childhood spent in Egypt (like if you’re raise in Australia back when it was racist), his father wasn’t with him till adulthood, worked as an itinerant, homeless, Rabbi after suddenly abandoning his carpeting work. Like actually think about how dirt poor Jesus was.
“At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns,so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” – Deuteronomy 4:3
Like do you realise that Jesus actually experienced the Levite, foreigner, fatherless and widow life? When you serve the “least of these brothers and sisters of (his)“, remember that they are like family to him because they suffered the way he suffered. To know God is to get to know the people of God, the poor, the last, the lost, the least, right in the middle of their suffering and to act in love throughout. Stories are important, the drama of the Gospel is essential, but the other side of knowing God is practical; so that while you meditate on the Eucharist, your actions continue the Gospel message in your everyday acts of love. That is to know God.
So bringing it back to how “serving the poor”, “knowing God”, “the Eucharist” are all the most basic forms of worship, it is that the drama of the Eucharist, and the practicality of serving, are two sides of the concept of knowing God. That is what I want to leave you with today.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9