Saturday, May 17, 2008

Clowns to the left of me / Jokers to the right

A middle aged man in a polo shirt stopped by the table of my Christian author friends to ask where they "go to church." They told him. He responded, "If you ever want to go to a church that really knows how to rock, check out Quest." Then he walked away. Quest is increasingly notorious for trying to evangelize people who are already committed Christians.

I spoke to a Disciples of Christ minister who told me he was thinking of using Tolle's A New Earth (think new age teacher that Oprah loves) in his church to "expand their horizons." I thought about suggesting he teach them the Christian religion, but decided to leave it alone (I was at work, after all).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some reading

Mormons are not permitted access to Roman Catholic baptismal records. For obvious reasons.

In case you suffered religious abuse this weekend, and were subjected to a sermon about mothers rather than the Feast of Pentecost, go read Alan's reflection on the day. For penance and healing and such.

(Once again, say it with me - I am a Church calendar fundamentalist. Very good.)

Mothers are wonderful things, and my own mother is quite wonderful. It would just be a much better idea to honor them on a liturgically appropriate day, like one of the several commemorations for Our Lady. Why, we could even pass out bumper stickers in the parish hall that say, "Respect Your Mother," and kill two birds with one stone. Um, as it were.

Recovering the lost language of lament: Michael Spencer asks, "Can a Christian Sing the Blues?" Make sure you follow this link to Michael Card's lectures on the topic at Southern Seminary.

And if you're following the discussion on why the whole question of contemporary/traditional worship is bad (mmkay?), Bryan reflects on a line in the Mass. Okay, I think that's what the topic is about. Not everybody else. But just to be fair, here's a word from a friend who does believe that creativity has a place in the liturgy.

To Live and Die in the Catholic Faith

Cardinal Kasper recently challenged Anglicans to ask themselves whether they belong to the ancient Churches of the first millennium, or the Protestant churches of the 16th century. The Dean of Nashotah House, Robert S. Munday, responds with a short post on the nature of Catholicity (think Vincentian Canon) and the nature of Anglican protesting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Notes on Christian Worship

Note: I first wrote this with small group home-based worship in mind.

Worship as Response

Simply put, worship is the response we make to the Lord's initiative in our lives. He created us to live joyfully in community with him and one another. Because of the Fall, this is neither natural nor intuitive. Happily, the Christian story is all about Jesus winning us back to God and giving us his own Spirit that we might learn to walk in the ways he originally intended. We can simply be with him.

I often keep a cluttered space at home, and when someone comes to visit, I have to pick up all the clutter, coats and clothing off the chair so they can sit down. Worship is somewhat like this – making a space for God to enter, by quieting our hearts and being still. The liturgy we use - whether simple or complex – is a way of knocking away the clutter and inviting Jesus in.

Creating Space for the Presence
“You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

— Ephesians 2:19.
Christ dwells in our common life. We are the temple of the Living God; we are the Body of Christ. He is here among us not because of any good and right things we say, or bad things we don’t do, but because of who we are.

That means the pressure is off. Choose to waste time. Don’t try to figure out anything new, either in regard to him or yourself. Don’t worry about saying the right things, or saying anything at all. You can speak to him, or just sit and listen. We will create an open space for him to simply be, for no particular purpose. This is a wasted time, wasted energy that could be spent getting something done. This blesses him.


Jesus will come to be among us. He enjoys our presence, and desires that we would enjoy his. Several of us may not. We’ve been forced to sit with destructive, exploitative images of God and sitting with Jesus while those old ideas are still banging around in our hearts can be uncomfortable. He’s really very much okay with that. Where Jesus is, he heals.

Avenues into the Presence of God

Invocation. Jesus comes to be with us because he loves us and because we need him; that’s why he first came to us. We can invite him into our midst on that basis; we need no other.

Praise and Thanksgiving. Sit. Remember the works of Yahweh. Acknowledge the good things you have received as being his gifts. Cite those moments of the day when some word, action or remembrance reminded you that you are loved and cared for. Thank him. Say, “I love you, too.” Tell him he’s wonderful.

Confession. Welcome him into the dark places. Don’t try to fix them up. Certainly don’t keep him out of them. Ask forgiveness only for actual sins: brokenness and need are not sins, and do not require apology. If you’ve got an incredible problem that you can’t seem to work out, tell him about it. Not that it will fix anything necessarily, but we need to cultivate a habit just being with Jesus in those places where we are uncomfortable being ourselves. If you’re not sure what to say to him because you just realized he’s not the horrible trickster god you were brought up with, say so. You don’t have to talk beyond that. Don’t make promises, just be there with him.

Listen. Read the scriptures. Let your friends affirm and challenge you. Sit and receive.

I utilized Richard Foster’s chapter in Celebration of Discipline to cover the bases.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


With this new 2008 Anglican Prayer Book, I have a +1 traditionalism, and a +4 Anglican cantankerousness. It brings a -2 debuff for all stats on nearby Episcopalians. It does however give me a -1 ecumenism and a -3 relevancy.

However, if somebody plays the "contemporary worship" dilemma card, the lower relevancy stats will double my clerics' XP.

Let the reader understand.