Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sunday song: time to light the advent candle

1st Sunday of Advent...
Today is the start of the Church year; the beginning of the season of Advent.

In the darkness we light a candle...
small, fragile, flickering
sign of hope.
Light amidst the shadows
in the doorway of our hearts -
hearts that watch, and wait and yearn.
O come, o come, Emmanuel...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

worship as a part of the hustle of daily life?

A wee while ago, over at journalling, Liz was reflecting on the hustle and bustle and lack of space that can often be found within worship as it is hurries along to the finish line.  She noted that she was 'sure God roars with laughter at the notion that worship can be packaged and condensed.'  And further, asked the question 'what elements are to be sacrificed in order to create space -
the space that we need in worship as a counter to the hustle of daily life?'

A good question.
Which, as I wrote on Liz's blog, sent me back to the basics and further questions:
*What 'is' worship?
*who is it we worship?
*why do we worship - purpose?
*'who' are 'we' anyway?
*how do we try in some measure to achieve whatever 'it' is?

And as ever, those words of Annie Dillard's ring loud and clear in my ears about life preservers and crash helmets, and that worship is an awesomely terrifying business...potentially.

Why is it we seem content to settle for less?
Opt for 59 packed minutes on Sunday at 11...? 
On the other hand, planning worship is risky:
one person's idea of fabulous worship is another's horrible nightmare. 
Are we guilty of worshipping worship, and forgetting to worship the One who brings us together? 
Hmmm, 'worshipolatry'? 
What is 'true' worship?
And how do we know - when it can sometimes be measured only by a sense of our non-objective, utterly subjective selves? 
I don't know.
What I do know is that even as we bumble clumsily along the road to authentic worship,
when in that set apart time of the community of the faithful we fill it to overflowing with words and noise and invoke God's name whilst simultaneously attempting to prevent hearing God speak...
even in the midst -
despite ourselves
and despite the noise -
in the hustle
of our daily lives.
I wonder... if we were to turn the question  
should worship be a counter to the hustle of daily life? on its head:
Rather, should worship be a part of / reflect the hustle of daily life?
Is the way we worship -
that bizarre thing we do when we gather together -
somehow strangely symbolic of the paradox of incarnation
when God broke through the hustle and bustle of our noisy, chattering humanity,
and, in the sound of a new-born's cries, the Word was made flesh?
A moment of gobsmacking awe
even in the noise...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Worshipping with Children...

and fresh out of inspiration? 
Or sifting through a 'spirituality/ theology of the child'?
Mary Hawes - a CofE pal of mine - has just flagged up a most excellent resource in the shape of a blog, appropriately entitled 'Worshipping With Children: including children in the congregation's worship, using the Revised Common Lectionary'
Do yourselves a favour and check it out.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

This should be absloutely cracking!

Here's the blurb:


Ever wanted to see four New College lecturers go head to head in a debate on the Virgin Birth?!

Well it's happening!

Theology Network in association with the Edinburgh Centre for the Study of Christian Origins present a special Christmas debate not to be missed...
On Monday 29th November at 4pm in the Martin Hall, Dr. Helen Bond (Biblical Studies), Prof. David Fergusson (Theology), Prof. Michael Northcott (Ethics) and Dr. Sara Parvis (Ecclesiastical History) are going to go head to head in the Virgin Birth Debate.

It's set to be very entertaining, at least a little bit controversial and just awesome!

So whatever your view come along, bring your popcorn, sit back and watch it all happen (or heckle if you want)!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Dulce et Decorum est

Dulce et Decorum est 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas!  GAS!  Quick, boys! --  An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
 Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
 And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
 His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin, 
 If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
 Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 
 My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie:  Dulce et decorum est
 Pro patria mori.
                                                                  Wilfrid Owen.

Monday, 8 November 2010

To Tarshish, or Ninevah?

When I was sifting through the whole 'minister, me?' question [hat tip to Mrs Gerbil *grin*] I was offered up a whole range of books as suggested reading fodder.  And oh, my goodness, did you know that there are multitudinous numbers of books on the subject of vocational calling?  I'm not sure whether this is alarming, affirming, or quite what it says about attitudes within various Christian commmunities about models of working/ ministry.  But I digress. I read many of these and yet, somehow, they never quite seemed to fit or ring a little bell inside my head.
Don't get me wrong, there was some very useful reflecting on some very helpful bits 'n pieces... and yet.  I was frustrated by a lot of them and I really couldn't work out why until I was handed Peterson's Under the Unpredictable Plant.
Bells rang a-plenty. 
The thoughts wrapped around me snugly like a warm, woolly fleece on a cold winter's day.
It spoke my language- and felt as if it could have been written just for me.
Happy day.

After long reflection, I realise that while the other books where fine, they were written within an Anglican theological understanding of priesthood.  It is a very different theological kettle of fish to a Reformed understanding of ministry.  Not saying one is better than the other, they are just quite different theologically and because of this, a different praxis emerges.  Of course, I began to wonder just why there were so very many Anglican 'discerning your call' books as per Reformed viewpoints on this topic and why they were all on the list of Ministries Council - but that for another day!

I love the way Peterson challenges the system, especially what he would perceive to be the creeping idolatry of 'careerism' within the church: very hard-hitting stuff and which he likens to Jonah buying a ticket to Tarshish, rather than doing the thankless, possibly less glory-filled job over in Ninevah.
The book cautions against pride, abuse of power, and hiding behind the detachment of a 'professional pastor' veneer.  It urges authenticity at nearly every sentence.  And it works for me.

I keep coming back to this book - indeed - I'm just about to re-read it to see where I may have moved, or what continues to feel affirmed, or where I'm still uncomfortable/ challenged.  No doubt, I'll blog about that at a later point.