"The dismissal tells a story. It is more than a signal that the time of worship is over. It is the beginning of service in the world. The content of the Dismissal, although brief, should be well thought through. . . . [We] need to give careful thought to the words and actions that send God's people into the world."
Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God's Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 102-103.
One of the great things about doing the Master's Course on Worship Studies at IWS in Jacksonville, Florida, was that it really helped me to see things from a different perspective. For example, looking at the "Four-Fold" pattern of worship that seems to have permeated the life of congregations from very early on, until even now in our more liturgical expressions. Entering in to God's presence, or even being reminded of Jesus entry into this world, however you look at it, we "enter" intentionally into meetings, seasons, and experiences that are designed to make us more keenly aware of God's presence. The same goes for the ministry of the Word, The Table, and of course, the Dismissal.
But what got my attention about the above quote, were two things that are usually not intentionally done or communicated well in our congregational gatherings beyond a closing prayer:
1) The Story - of service in the world - being sent into that world
2) Why does this incredibly important aspect of worship need to be brief?
The emphasis on service (Romans 12:1&2) is so important to how we live - daily - in an extremely complex world. Making direct application, and moving from propositional truth to incarnation truth is so imperative in today's postmodern world, not only for relevance sake, but also for our own - we really do need to keep it real.
And an exhortation to really consider how we can, as is said in Hebrews 10, "Stimulate one-anther to love and good works" is so necessary in an environment today that is so fed up with talk, and really wants to see reality in people's actions. How might our congregations meetings look if we took one Sunday a month and emphasized this all too often passed over critical element in the life of a congregation's worship?