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Tag Archives: Theology

The political but not partisan

With all that’s going on at the moment, it is difficult to not just let my own views take over what I say in the pulpit. At times yes I need to give my own views and opinions… however these view need to be rooted in scripture and faith, and when preaching, when I

interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today [Ordinations service of the Singapore Methodist Church]

It is my place to let me get in the way of the message, but at times it can be hard. This thinking has been kicked off by others having similar issues, in this case David over at Beloved Spear, and how he is dealing with things in the US.

So now we wait and see, but keep in mind the teaching of Christ and ways of God.

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Ministry

 

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Reading of the “Word”

Recently I have been thinking about the way in which I read the Bible. Firstly I see the Bible as a book shelf, not as a single volume but as a collection of works drawn together to show the relationship between God and humanity and the response of humanity to God. Within this I do see that the Bible is inspired by God – but I don’t think that God sat there and dictated it word for word. I am aware that the Bible is made up of letter; history; legal books; advice and proverbs; poetry; prophetic writings; political challenges; humour; and the Gospels – the accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

However I have found that there are five general ways in general that I read the Bible, in no particular order:

  1. Pastoral reading – this is the reading that I do to prepare sermons, this is for me reading the Bible to hear most of all what it has to say in the situation in which I am to preach, as well as the general message to the current age.
  2. Academic reading – this is the reading to come to know the background of the text, the delving into the history of it, and what at times the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic meant or could have meant
  3. Devotional reading – this for me is my reading of the Bible in daily prayer; often to a set pattern and trying to keep the discipline of reading the sections set.
  4. Getting to know reading – this is for me reading to come to know the Bible better; it links to me devotional reading, but at times will move away from it. This is an attempted to come to know the body of Bible better.
  5. Personal reading – this is the reading that I do my self, when I open the Bible and simply mediate upon the word with no other purpose but to dwell upon it and listen to it.

So why think about the way in which I read the Bible, in part this is the question of how to approach the text before me. Some of the tools used will cross over and not be individual to one way of reading. However the way of looking at the text will change, what am I trying to get from – if anything – the text.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2015 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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To what are we called?

This was inspired by the melding together of the addresses to the Methodist Conference of the President and Vice-President of the Conference.

To what are we called?

To what are we called?
To famine or feast
to good or bad years
To what are we called?
To city or wilderness
to multitude or hermitage
To what are we called?
To be in season and out of it
to highs and lows
To what are we called?
To word and sacrament
to be unheard or empty
To what are we called?
To witness and service
to be unseen or unknown
To what are we called?
To mission or holiness
to a scriptureless dichotomy
To what are we called?
To be in or of the world
to be in ways set aside
To what are we called?
To core and rule
to inspiration or spontaneity
To what are we called?
To many, to all and more
to be done by the grace of God.
 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry

 

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THE LIGHT OF THE WORD

A poem about the views of the Old Testament as seen in the New Testament.

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORD

Among us, with
us, word, illuminated
and illuminating.
Visions of past
and echo’s of future.
Directing us onward
from far behind.
What is to come before
now formed and
seen. Only through
what yet occurs.
 
Records received
to show and to tell.
with purpose and
clarity. Seen afresh
in the light of
what may and
could be. Pointers
and signs. Prophecy
received, heard, given
written. Shadows cast
behind and before
by all that surrounds
the light of the Word.
 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Poetry

 

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The whole Christian country

Before Easter it came out that the Prime Minister said that Britain is a Christian country, then a group wrote to the Telegraph saying it was not.

 

Now all this sort of makes sense in a political way, but for me I have to agree with the sentiment of the 50 who wrote the letter in response. Not that I agree with their main point, but more that I see that to be a Christian country, that the nation would need to align itself to the core aspects of the Christian Faith, and this would influence all aspects of public life. Which it clearly does not. However I have to agree with both Archbishop Justin Welby and his predecessor Bishop Rowan, that there is an echo of Christianity in the form and shape of the nation, but that this is not the whole of the story. And as Bishop Rowan puts it, people can discover the Christian faith anew, without all the baggage of being an organ of the state, which I see as a positive thing.

Archbishop Justin Welby

 

rchbishop Justin Welby

 

rchbishop Justin Welby
 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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