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Intentionally doing church, intentionally being Christian

Thinking about how we do and be church, how we be Christians. One main issue of this is the intentionality of what we do, the practice of doing things and intending to do then. Setting out to do things with a purpose and an intention to do, and knowing why it is been done.

I would say this is as true in personal life as it is in the communal life of the church and of individual congregations.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab

 

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Sing out in good voice

Singing is a part of Christian worship, in part from the early days – we are told to have a hymn by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26 – and still forms a part of communal worship.

However some blogs I’ve seen of late have asked questions about our congregational singing. The first of these asked the question about why people are not singing any longer – Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship by Kenny Lamm. Lamm suggests that with the professional musician is the return to the pre-reformation performance of worship, and I’d have to say it can feel at times more like a performance at times. For me the performance is not all bad – we have the choral evensong, with bits that no one but the choir sing as another method – however to move completely to just this model  does leave people out of what is happening. And are we not there to worship God, and not just watching others do it. In fact it can come to feel like this does:

The second blog came at the issue from another direction, 13 Solutions for a Church That Just Won’t Sing and looks at how to encourage singing.

The cross over between the two blogs is interesting, and a couple of things stand out to me:

1) The use of Hymn Books

The common book that all can share in and sing from. Singing from the same hymn sheet in fact. But that the hymn book is more than just a way to get the words out to people so they can sing them, but that it is also a book to be engaged with and used as part of everyday live. Within my own Methodist tradition the hymn book is a key part of the devotional material of the church, and has been part of the worship resources from the early days when John Wesley put together collections of hymns including Select hymns with tunes annext: designed chiefly for the use of the people called Methodists (1761) (a digital copy of the original can be seen here) which included his Directions for Singing:

Even today the daily lectionary in the Prayer Handbook, gives for each day a Reading; a Psalm and a Hymn. There was also the controversy about the new hymn book – Singing the Faith. However what this has done, is to put common words into the hands of all, and not just those who can search them out on the web.

2) The need for congregational singing

“Directions for Singing” by John Wesley

That this part of Divine Worship may be the more acceptable to God, as well as the more profitable to yourself and others, be careful to observe the following directions.

I. Learn these Tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III. Sing All. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in Time: whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your Heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

Mr Wesley’s Directions for Singing show a need to sing together, and this is the second key part for me of what both blogs say. That the congregation all sing together, that it is a communal act. In this we see that God is the one to whom our worship is directed, that God is the audience for our worship, and not any of us in the worship space. Thus we need to sing together.

What now…

Well I agree we need to have some new worship songs; and some old ones. Also having new songs to old tunes. We don’t need to be perfect in what we sing, but need to know that God is at the centre.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Ministry, Worship

 

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Duality

Duality

The bodiless soul
is unrooted.
The soulless body
shall no soar.
The spiritual alone
is without reality.
The material alone
is without the other.
Justiceless mercy
does no satisfy.
Merciless justice
does no satisfy.
Duality can often
be divided to much.
Uniformity can often
not be broad enough.

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Mystery, Poetry

 

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Liminal Moments

Liminal Moment

We stand upon a threshold
ready to step over
to face the challenges that come
and all that tomorrow shall hold
To be changed from
glory into glory
entering into a history
and an ever going story
Responding to all
that came to each
of us in many
ways as a call
Joining with near and far
in time and space
the cloud that exists
in God’s grace.
 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Poetry

 

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For ever and ever

For ever and ever

Jones, Jones, Huws
Morgan a Pugh
Each in their row
each in their place
The same old faces
the same old sermon
 
The Spirit visited
once long ago.
With a wild abandon
and not much time to stay
whipping up a furore
and bringing many in.
 
But now they lay in rows
neat around the walls
in God’s holy acre
with the box at its centre
kept in fine condition
for eternal praise.
 
But empty it now feels
the cloud around
does not fill the seats
only the faithful remnant
Pugh a Morgan
Huws, Jones, Jones.

 

Some reflections in poetry on the state of the church, again it suggests I’ve been on a retreat.

 
 

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Hagiosphere – a posh word for a holy huddle

A friend pointed out this word the other day giving the definition as

used to mean a social ecosystem of like-minded individuals constantly reinforcing their own world-views to the exclusion of absolutely anything that might contradict those views.

And this got me thinking about many churches, that they are often made up of the same type of person. This of course is often the people who live in the area around the church building. However then you get those who go to a church because it had “people like us” in it.

And I have to ask is this healthy? If the church is meant to be the body of Christ, and to respect and contain all parts of the body, then if it is all the same it will stop working. However I do think that this raise questions of what we mean by church {structure / building}. Is it possible to have different expressions of church that are all part of one whole working together? Also what do those outside think, is it a case of “I’m not like them so I can’t go there/won’t be welcome.”

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Ministry, Seen by the outside, Wheeel&Spoke

 

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