Friday, August 22, 2008

Bloodfest: light v dark

"You are the light of the world."
+ + Matthew 5:14a + +

Light has no opposite.

When light and dark are in contrast to each other, dark loses. It's really weird when you think about it. If you go into a dark room, it is dark because the light has been blocked out, maybe with walls, doors, or blinds and curtains. Night is really just the earth blocking the sun. Shadows are merely an object eclipsing a light source.

So what is darkness?  Simply it's the absence of light. 

In thinking about it there are a few things I can think of that follow this pattern. Cold is not the opposite of hot, it is absence of it. Science teaches us that when energy is introduced to an object it's particles move faster thus it heats up. So cold is just a lack of heat. The principle is that there are some things that do not have opposites, instead what we think of as opposite is really just one thing in greater or lesser levels. (FYI: I think this conversation is at some level relevant with good and evil.)

Have you ever played hide and go seek in a dark barnyard or the woods? If you have I'm sure you've sat in a shadow and watched barely breathing as a person walks inches from where you're hiding. They couldn't see you because you were not in the light, they were. I've hid in places at night where during the day, I'd be be easily seen. 

There are some interesting parallels between this and what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount when he says we are the light of the world.

  • first it means that the darkness cannot stand up to the light. 
  • second, it means that darkness is really just an absence of the light. 
  • it also means that the issue with defeating darkness is an issue of shining the light into the darkness.
  • we like it in the darkness because we can hide there.

Friday, August 1, 2008

sermon on the mount set to melody

Ever try singing it? I'll admit that I have only tried it, it took a long time. But, it was definitely a great "immersion practice" we are all getting the hang of right now.
The video here is a recording of the song called "Your Love is Strong" performed and written Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot. In the past 9 months, he has released 4 solo EPs, which I highly recommend - since we're on the topic.
Back on the topic track here, this song is his own version"Our Family Prayer" & other parts of the Sermon set to beautiful melody.
CHALSIPADAJEDA - maybe use it in addition to your daily immersion in the text. Go find 99 cents in the cupholders of your car and hit up iTunes. much love.

i can't sing and can't play a guitar

the reading has made me think about becoming a worship pastor. for years i thought that I could never be a worship pastor for two reasons: 1.) I can't sing 2.) I don't play an instrument.

but after the reading that I have done in the packet, i've begun to think, maybe the people who limit a worship pastor to simply a person who can play an instrument and sing are the people who have a poor mindset. worship is so much more than just musical elements (not to say they're not important).

i think we should have worship pastors who can't sing nor play instruments

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Pastoral No

(from page 283 - Planning and Leading Worship as a Pastoral Task)

"They are willing to say no to a text or narrative or image or song that is inaccurate, simplistic, or sentimental."

At first this line struck me as almost insulting, essentially giving pastors the power of censorship over what is presented to the congregation during the "worship service". As a highly intelligent, well educated Christian I should be able to decide for myself what is theologically "sound". Yet as I type this I realize I am echoing the teachings of the post-modern/Western culture that characterizes my generation. In so much of daily life I am forced to critically evaluate and filter the things I encounter, be it in books, movies, TV or music. As a Christian I should be relieved that there is someone else doing the hard work for me for a small period of time.

Amazingly enough I am called to be this person for those for whom I will be a leader in worship (which is the label we used in my home church). As pastor I am responsible for showing the congregation where the good food is. In the words of Psalm 23 I am to lead them to green fields and quiet waters. Which can only be done if I myself have frequented them often enough to know where they are.

As we are discerning in crafting our pastoral ministries we will teach our congregants to have the same discerning taste with everything they encounter. By introducing them to the depth and richness of Scripture, liturgy and the Christian tradition we will open their tastes to things that are better for them and more satisfying. As pastors it's the difference between throwing happy meals to the kids in the back seat, and inviting them to linger over a home-cooked Thanksgiving (perhaps Eucharist???) dinner.

What that requires is an ability and willingness to say "No". A diet of "cotton-candy gospel" will leave a congregation famished for the Bread of Life. It's easy to give into the screaming demands for junk-food theology, but as leaders it is our responsibility to say, "You can't have any more candy until you eat your veggies". No matter how much they cry or pout. As they mature hopefully they'll learn to eat well of Scripture even when you aren't there to ensure they have a well-balanced diet. It is the difference between discipleship and perpetuating spiritual infants (1st Corinthians 3).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Worship Quote of the Week

In contemporary society the heart is reached through participation, and all approaches to worship—traditional, contemporary, or blended—need to relearn how to achieve services characterized by immersed participation. Robert E. Webber

Friday, July 18, 2008

Everything is Spiritual?

First, I would like to thank Chad for his good post below. This is exactly what I'm hoping for here-- the meaningful and personal engagement with the reader. He immediately sparked my thinking and engagement. I want to extend the dialogue and I debated doing it in a comment and decided it was too much fun for a comment. I'm going for a post. Now that, my friends, is a successful blogpost-- when it inspires another blogpost. ;-) So thanks Chad. Now allow me to take on the Kalas quote from your post.

“Becoming familiar with sacred things can hurt us-because the sacred becomes normal.” (E. Kalas)

On the one hand I want to applaud this statement and say put it up over the door of the office.

On the other hand-- I want to say, "Dr. K! Wait. . . . . isn't that the point. . . . . for the sacred to become normal. Isn't that precisely what happens in the incarnation-- the sacred becoming normal; a normal human person-- at least the "normal" God had in mind. I mean isn't that what Rob Bellinger--I mean Bell, is talking about? ;-) Everything is Spiritual! Right? It is only when the sacred becomes normal that the normal can become sacred again.

Kalas chooses his words carefully. So maybe his emphasis is on "familiar," as in "familiarity breeds contempt." But isn't this the risk of the Incarnation everywhere it happens-- that God will be treated with contempt. (see John 1)

It's interesting that the word "familiar" descends from the Latin word, familiaris, leading to Familial. It is a "Family" word. (i.e. "children of God" see also John 1) The word means "well known from long and close association," and also "in close friendship; intimate." Would the goal be to become "unfamiliar" or "less familiar." Surely not.

So maybe the real problem I have with the saying has to do with the notion of "things." Maybe that's the problem-- worship becoming about "things." Things, like lights, cameras, sound, accoutriments, amenities, candles, icons, art, instruments, songs, liturgies, robes, bulletins, books, hymnals orders of worship and so forth. Worship is about the God, after all. Familiarity with the God seems a worthy end of worship doesn't it. Familiarity with God leads us to a proper understanding and appropriation of things. A proper approach to God tends to help the "things of worship take on symbolic or iconic or sacramental dimensions. On the other hand, a reverencing of things tends to make God distant. It creates a religious world that obscures God.

I think I do get what Chad is driving at here with his reference to the Kalas quote. He's saying don't go to sleep at the wheel. Stay vigilant. He's saying wake up to the sacred, sacramentality of our every day worship work. And he's exactly right. In the end I think I prefer the way Eugene Peterson talks about the things of worship. You are going to be tempted to think I am taking this in an entirely different direction. Peterson says that over the door of every sanctuary where the Triune God is worshiped should be a large sign that reads, "Beware the God!"