« December 2006 | Main | February 2007 »

Emerging Confessions Part One

In his book on emerging or progressive Christianity, The Heart of Christianity, Marcus Borg questions whether "sin" is the best term for describing our human condition before God. His argument isn't merely theological, but liturgical: "The nearly universal liturgical element of 'confession of sin and absolution' might be replaced or complemented by a 'declaration of what ails us and God's promise to us'" (p. 170). He continues in a note: "I am not suggesting these exact words as 'liturgical headings.' I would hope more elegant phrases could be found, but I am suggesting the notion that lies behind these words" (p. 185, n. 8). Following is one attempt at more elegant phrasing for several of the images Borg mines from the Bible to describe our condition.

Confession of Blindness and Promise of Illumination

God of Light, we confess that our vision is impaired. Your presence is lost to us in the shadows of our world and the darkness of our hearts. We look, yet we do not see, blind to the daily opportunities to praise you and serve others. Restore our sight, we pray, in the name of Christ whose vision of your kingdom come, led him on the path of salvation.

God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has sent Christ as the light of the world. He remains with us in the Holy Spirit, and promises that those who seek will surely find. In Jesus Christ, our eyes are open. Amen.

Recognition of Exile and Hope of Restoration

God, alone in whom our hearts find their rest, we have awakened to find ourselves far from home. Our paths have led us away from you. We feel lonely and fear we are abandoned. Here, your word seems foreign to us, and we struggle to sing the songs of heaven. In your faithfulness, show us your presence once again, that we, too, may rejoice with all who call upon your name.

We have a good shepherd who searches for lost sheep. The Spirit of God still blows through the wilderness and prays for us. The sacred testimony gives us this hope; God delivers us in Christ. Amen.

Admission of Bondage and Words of Deliverance

Listening God, hear our cries. We are not free. We have enslaved ourselves and others to debt and despair. We are bound by vain desires, and our liberty to love is curtailed by bad habits. Our emotions hold us hostage to wrongs, real and imagined. In our bondage we are less than what you call us to be. Hear and answer us, we pray, in the name of him who came to set prisoners free.

The God of the Israelites has shown us the way of exodus. Forsaking what lies behind, we follow our liberating Lord. When we are weak in faith and strength, the Holy Spirit provides daily bread and springs of living water, that we may complete our journey in the land of promise. Thanks be to God. Amen.


What Should Worship Sound Like?: Dusting Off an Old Story

Back in July of '06, I wrote an blog post entitled, "The Pope's Rift with Riffs" on my blog, relevintage.com.

I would like to dust it off for the sake of conversation here on Worship Helps.  Here it is:

It's official.  The Pope has entered the worship wars.

From the New York Sun this past week:

ROME - Pope Benedict XVI has called for an end to electric guitars and modern music being played in church and demanded a return to traditional choirs and Gregorian chants.

The Catholic Church has been experimenting with new ways of holding Mass to try to attract more people. The recital of Mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy; in Spain, Mass has been set to flamenco music, and in America, the Electric Prunes produced a “psychedelic” album called “Mass in F Minor.”

However, the use of guitars and tambourines has irked the pope, who loves classical music. “It is possible to modernize holy music,” he said at a concert conducted by the director of music at the Sistine Chapel, Domenico Bartolucci. “But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music.”

His comments prompted the newspaper La Stampa to compare him with Pope Pius X, who denounced faddish classical and baroque compositions and reinstated Gregorian chants in 1903.

Uh oh.  Get your camo on...

Continue reading "What Should Worship Sound Like?: Dusting Off an Old Story" »


A Question of Accessibility

Back in Nov., I got an insightful email from a congregant about a phrase we sang in a song during our weekend church services.  The song was "Give Us Clean Hands" by Charlie Hall. 

See if you can find the phrase in question.  Here are the lyrics:

Give Us Clean Hands
Charlie Hall

Verse
We bow our hearts we bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes from evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

Chorus
Give us clean hands give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Give us clean hands give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
And oh God let us be a generation that seeks
That seeks Your face oh God of Jacob
And oh God let us be a generation that seeks
That seeks Your face oh God of Jacob

©2000 worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing); sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

What was the phrase in question?

Continue reading "A Question of Accessibility" »