The priest who gave the homily at the Maundy Thursday service brought our attention to the provocative fact that the service will not have a closing benediction, as the service will not not end until Easter, three days later. Instead of receiving the closing benediction, we were dismissed for an intermission that lasted until the Good Friday service, which also concluded with another intermission of which I am currently in the midst. So, here I am feeling that I have to be more conscientious about my use of time, as I am not on my time, but merely taking a leave from a service, which means I am on God’s time. Of course, all time is actually God’s time, and what this three day service has actually done is potently draw attention to this truth.
In processing this further, I am thinking that it might be appropriate to look at the time between all worship services as an intermission, irrespective of whether we have received a benediction or not, since worship is the meaning of time. The Westminster Shorter Confession supports this idea when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” to which it responds, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Thus according to this confession, which is intended to function as a biblical summation, the very purpose of our existence (an existence that moves through time) is the glorification and enjoyment of God. This can be further distilled by saying that the purpose of human existence is to worship God, as worshiping God means glorifying him particularly by expressing that he is our deepest delight and satisfaction, or using the words of the confession, our deepest enjoyment.
In viewing the time between services as an intermission, a potential problem is that it could imply taking a break from worship, which would further imply that there is a space where humans could be unhinged from the purpose of their existence. This is nonsense. Drawing from experience, I would like to try to resolve this problem by pointing out that whenever there is an intermission, at whatever kind of performance, the crowd conducts themselves in a way that is appropriate to the venue. Translating this into the context of worship, the venue in which we live is God’s world, and we should always conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the place we occupy. Moreover, and more importantly, the venue in which we live is one in which the distinction between actors and audience is dissolved, as all who come to the show are called to actively participate. In this context, the stage, which would be the worship service proper, is merely a focal point for the performance we carry into the world, and the intermission is just that time where we embody the performance we participated in upon the stage.