5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Mike Cosper
Buy Rhythms of Grace
Reading Level: easy
You may see the title and subtitle and think Rhythms of Grace is only about music in the church. Mike Cosper does talk music but he approaches worship more holistically. As a matter of fact, he says,
Today, when many worship services are reduced to preaching and music, it becomes very easy to equate music with worship--and that’s a dangerous slope to park your car on. (p. 153)
I’ll give you three reasons you should read this book--even if (especially if?) you don’t lead worship in your church. First, Cosper exerts great effort in making the Trinity central in worship.
[Worship] begins in the loving relationship with the Trinity, where the Father exalts the Son, the Son exalts the Father, and the Spirit celebrates them both [in a] . . . “ continuous outpouring.” (p. 30)
While we may never get to the bottom of the Trinitarian mystery that’s glimpsed there, we can find comfort in knowing that God, in Jesus, has suffered like us and prays for us and with us with perfect compassion and understanding. (p. 135 see p. 143)
Just a few examples of a continual focus through out the book. Part of the rhythm which we worship in is a Trinitarian rhythm.
Second, Cosper makes worship more than just what we do in church. He uses the terms “gathered” and “scattered” to describe the life of the church. Our liturgy (how we worship in church) impacts our life as the church scattered. It prepares us for life in a fallen world.
The way we adore, confess, and lament together will shape the way we adore, confess, and lament in our ordinary lives. (pp. 149-50)
Scattered worship reveals the scandal of God’s grace. The whole mess of our lives is transformed in Christ, from corrupted to glorious, from ashes to beauty. (p. 77)
Worship scattered happens in the midst of a not yet world, where those around us have long forgotten their Maker. (p. 78)
Rehearsed regularly, the gospel become parts of our way of thinking, seeing, feeling, loving, and being in the world. (p. 124)
I could duplicate quotations which also reflect the purpose of the church gathered but most churches if they lack one emphasis lack the scattered. They sing, preach, and maybe read Scripture but don’t intentionally see this as preparing the people of God to live in light of the gospel in a fallen world.
Third, the full gospel story is central to worship. This last point results from the first two. The gospel is from creation to consummation. It’s trinitarian. It’s all of life. It’s not just one aspect of the gospel. The first four chapters move through the gospel story big picture and the latter half of the book apply these truths to our worship gathered and scattered.
Israel was a story-formed community, and their gatherings were punctuated by remembering God’s story and their place within it. Where the church’s worship is centered on the cross and resurrection, Israel’s story centered on their own rescue: the exodus. (p. 96 side point: I don’t think these emphasis are separate. See the story through the lens of God’s covenant and exodus shadow becomes exodus reality in the New Testament. See Tom Holland’s Contours of Pauline Theology for a fuller explanation of this connection)
The overarching movement [when the church is gathered] is a retelling of the story, remembering that God is holy (adoration), we are sinners (assurance, thanksgiving, petition, and instruction), and Jesus sends us on his mission (charge and blessing). It’s a movement that runs parallels to another way of thinking about the story of the gospel: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. (p. 122)
I encourage you to pick up this book and give it a thorough reading. It deserves to be read slowly. As I stated even if you don’t lead worship in your church you will benefit a great deal from reading Rhythms of Grace. It will help you discern the gospel in the liturgy of your church. It will help you see how the church gathered can provide gospel instruction when the church scatters. Also, because I’m working on a book about the gospel and family I was challenged to consider how the concept of gathered/scattered could be applied to family life. For example, how could a gospel liturgy be used in our homes to disciple our children? Bottom line: buy it, read it, chew on it, and let it drive your focus to God.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Rhythms of Grace free from Crossway Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”