Pentecost 85

Pentecost 85
My Psalm 85

The Revised Church: A Better Me

Recently I received via FaceBook an opportunity to review a video. It was made by a man who offered that he knew what Jesus meant. He was not interpreting scripture. He was positive he knew that Jesus was think we needed enemies.

Also recently I was asked about a somewhat new policy in the Episcopal Church based upon the often-referred-to-as-‘the new prayer book”. Rendering an opinion on this revised Book of Common Prayer is much like passing through a neighborhood with warring gangs. No matter where you walk or what you are wearing, you will become a target. In short, there is no right or wrong for all and no matter where you stand….You are wrong! I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek but also will much sincerity.

The website Patheos.org posted an article on August 17, 2013 written by David Murrow entitled “Why Traditional Churches Should Stay Traditional”. The article was very well-written and talked about a church that attempts to be inclusive to all varieties of those worshipping. Once a month it has a more contemporary service and the music is “Praise” anthems accompanied by a guitar.

The writer mentioned that most in the congregation do not know these hymns and few sing along, even with the aid of a giant screen that lowers with the words on it. The writer also said the guitarist did not keep a steady rhythm. Interestingly, one of his compliments about this church [which is not his home parish but is a parish in the town where he and his wife live] was that “the people are friendly, but not overly so”.

The writer of this piece compares a church to a radio station and encourages the church to stay within its “genre”, to “do what you do best”. He concludes by stating: “What has this got to do with men? Guys appreciate a quality worship service — but they are not very forgiving of anything hokey or half-baked.”

Liturgical composer and acclaimed folk mass historian Ken Canedo traces the roots of the folk mass back to Gregorian chant, although it received the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church with Vatican II. It began in the Roman Catholic Church and slowly grew in popularity and acceptance. Gospel songs became upbeat and rearranged as churches opened their doors to all of God’s children, not a select few of a particular color or social status or neighborhood.

The writer asked “What has this got to do with men?” Fortunately for mankind, the worship service is not about perfection nor is it only for men. The focus isn’t even humankind. The Eucharist is about God and connecting with Him, recognizing the history and elements of our faith and denominational doctrine. It is a time of meditation, confession, supplication, appreciation, and connection.

Hebrews 12: 1-2 compares a spiritual life to running a race. One gets nowhere in a race by standing still or doing the same thing over and over again. Amos and Malachi also address the issue of stagnant churches and stagnant believers. We are all very lucky that God is open to change and forgiving, since many of our daily attempts at living can end up “hokey or half-baked”.

Where would we be today if medicine had decided not to try new things, new procedures, and new cures? How comfortable would we be in our churches if we had none of the advantages of the Industrial Revolution? How many people would come to coffee hour if you had to brew it over an open fire because there was no electricity? I have worshipped in historic churches dating back to the 1730’s. They are lovely with their box pews, etc. They are also chilly, drafty, and the candles needed for light are a great fire hazard.

When we resist learning new things, we limit ourselves. When we limit ourselves, we limit God. No one is born knowing the Nicene Creed or Lord’s Prayer. We had to learn it to love it. When we learn to appreciate the language and music of all God’s children, then we will love our neighbors as ourselves. Religion may be traditional but we are called to be contemporary in living our faith. It’s called growth.

Faith is personal. First and foremost, it is yours and I sincerely hope you find the faith, those spiritual beliefs that expand your world and give you comfort. Somewhere, sometime, someplace, the right positive way to lie is out there for you. It is not just like mine nor should it be. You and I are not the same. What is the same is kindness, love, personal calm, peace.

The thing is, faith is not something to be savored in the privacy of our own souls. It is meant to be shared. The successful host does not always throw a dinner party with just their own personal favorites. They offer a smorgasbord in the hopes that the guests will find at least one thing appealing. We need to acknowledge that what appeals to us might be offsetting to another and provide a variety. One might not like the combining of popular music and prayer but no one can deny the intense faith of the U2charists so popular in the first decade of this century nor the graciousness of the group U2 in allowing their music to be replayed through churches across the world with copyright permission.

Church is a means of communication, like the aforementioned radio station, but it is not just for listening. It is for hearing, talking, living, breathing, using, showing, and yes, even evolving. “When I was a child I spoke as a child.” As an adult, I need to find strength in my faith to be a better me, to walk in the assurance of God and His love and live in peace, especially with those who have a different palette than I. Like instruments in an orchestra, we have the ability to play many different types of music, whether Beethoven or Bernstein. It is when we do that together, that we find the Lord’s favor and purpose. In God’s arms, there is a place for us – all of us.

My Psalm 85

God and Creator, Great Spirit and Father Confessor:
We come to you seeking favor.
We pray to you seeking assistance.
We worship you seeking mercy.
We honor you seeking grace.

Revive and refresh us, O Great One.
Help us to not only receive but to give
Your steadfast love, faithfulness, and peace.

May the lives we lead reflect your Being.
May the adjectives of faith
Become the adjective of your children’s actions.

I pray we truly become one in the Love and one in harmony with all.
I pray we remember we all live in your heart together, united.
Man is the symphony of God’s presence on earth.
I pray we sing and dance in joyous jubilation.

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