Archive for December, 2012

Reflections on worship music from “Bill in the Blank”: Why I’ve Stopped Singing in Your Church

December 29, 2012

To be candid, I know how to behave in your church. I’ve been raised in it my entire life. So I know how to fake it when necessary. Lately, it’s been very necessary when the music is playing and we’re supposed to be singing, you know, to God. Frankly, I’m tired of it. Maybe all the “seekers” are enjoying it, but I’m finding it hard to sincerely engage in anything resembling worship.

Instead of feeling the joy of joining with other believers in offering praises to the Almighty, I often feel insulted, bored, and disconnected from 2,000 years of worship history. And just when I think that maybe it’s just me having a selfish and sinful attitude — a very real possibility — a flamboyant electrical guitar solo breaks out. I’m left deciding whether to waive my iPhone and buy the t-shirt or just shut up and go home.

 

Why I’ve Stopped Singing in Your Church.

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Collect for the Innocents

December 28, 2012

O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklmgs hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths: Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

December 27, 2012

MERCIFUL Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it, being instructed* by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

December 26, 2012

GRANT, O Lord, that, in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those who suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Collect for the Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas-day

December 25, 2012

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin*; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy holy† Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Meaning of Incarnation

December 24, 2012

Ben Witherington has an excellent essay on an important theological subject, the doctrine of the Incarnation.

Incarnation is a big word, and sadly, not a lot of Christians either use it, or know what it means. It does not refer to the same thing as the virginal conception, though the latter is the means by which the incarnation of the Son of God took place. Incarnation refers to the choices and acts of a pre-existent divine being, namely the Son of God, that the Son took in order to become a human being. He took on flesh, and became fully, truly human without ceasing to be fully, truly divine. Divinity is not something Jesus acquired later in life, or even after his death and resurrection. According to the theology of Incarnation he had always been the divine Son of God, even before he became Jesus, a human being. Strictly speaking the name Jesus only applies to a human being. It is the name the Son of God acquired once he became a human being in the womb of Mary, a name which he maintains to this day as he continues to be a human being. We could continue to go down this track, and it would be like going down the rabbit hole with Alice. We would end up saying ‘curiouser and curiouser’. Incarnation is not something that human beings can fully get their mental calipers around. It involves miracle and mystery, and is frankly above our mental pay grade, even for the brightest amongst us. That doesn’t mean however that we can not understand it to some extent, and it is important that we do so. As John Donne once said ’twas much that we were made like God long before, but that God should be made like us, much more.’

Read it all at the link below.

The Meaning of Incarnation.

The Church Year: Living in Sacred Time

December 23, 2012

During the Advent Season of 2012, it was my privilege to teach a four-week Sunday school class dealing with the church year. The recordings of the classes are available in my Dropbox and I am pleased to share them. Many of you may wonder why we have liturgical seasons and so-called “feast” days. I have taken great pains to answer all of your questions.

But seriously folks, it is a big subject and it is tied to church history, a study of over 2000 years. The lessons are lecture based, which I concede is not the most effective method of education. Under the circumstances of a relatively short time (45 minutes) and a substantial load of information, the ancient method of instruction turns out to be most practical. Except for week three (I messed up the class recording) these are the actual lessons.

Week one is an introduction to liturgical time and the Advent season. The audio file is available here.

Week two presents Lent, Palm Sunday and the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday) The recording is here.

Week three concerns the Great Vigil of Easter, the Rogation Days, Ascension Thursday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. The link for week three’s recording is here.

Finally, week four is all about the Easter and Epiphany cycles. The recording is here.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 23, 2012

O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and ‘deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord*, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world with out end. Amen.

What did you go out to see? John the Baptist, a man for our time

December 17, 2012

On this third week of Advent, the Gospel reading in the Book of Common Prayer comes from Matthew 11:2. The followers of John the Baptist, who has been put into prison, came asking Jesus if he was the much-anticipated Messiah. There was an expectation that, when the Anointed One appeared, all would be set straight, so languishing in a dungeon did not quite seem to fit into the divine program. Jesus confirms that he is the expected Savior.

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (Mat 11:4-6)

Offended by Jesus? It hardly seems possible, but we all know how his earthly ministry and life will end. John and Jesus have this much in common. Each seems at once to be somewhat offensive and somewhat attractive. In the case of John, it was not so terribly apparent. After John’s followers head back to give him the news of a Savior, Jesus discusses this with the remaining crowds.

 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
(Matthew 11:7-10)

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Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent

December 15, 2012
O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so pre pare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever,* one God, world without end. Amen.