April 14, 2006

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Further Thoughts on Lamenting Well My community has experienced the benefits of expressing our anger and confusion with God in a time of Lament. One time of lament that we (the worship arts team) came up with was particularly meaningful. We married two songs together and used a Psalm of Lament to structure our time. The Psalm was 60, and the songs were "O God, Where are You Now?" W/M by Sufjan Stevens and "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," W/M by Watts/Croft. The first song can be found on the album "Michigan." It contains the following stanzas, rich with meaning and content: "Oh God, where are you now? Oh God, save somehow There's no other man who could raise the dead So do what you can to anoint my head" Stevens is a young artist (and Hope College Grad) who has gained notoriety for his plan to write an album about all 50 states. "Michigan" and "Illinois" have been released, "Oregon" is currently being researched. Being an Episcopal, he no doubt approves of this liturgical use of his music. We interspersed the three verses with the reading of the Psalm and with times of instrumental music (comping). We closed the time of Lament with the promises of scripture found at the end of Psalm 60 ("Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory...) and an almost a capella version of "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (verse one only). We led the entire section in the musical key of C major for ease of singability. I hope that this has been helpful and inspirational as you seek to plan meaningful times of lament in your own context. pax, pba
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Communion with Shut-ins: Getting Rid of the Shot Glasses I have always disliked serving communion in those little “shot glasses.” I’m sure there is an official name for them, but I’ve never learned it. The symbolism of rejecting a common cup in favor of individual serving sizes bothers me intensely. I’m just as bothered by the individual wafers for communion. In ordinary Lord’s Day worship, my congregation uses a common cup and a single loaf of bread, and we commune by intinction. My problem, until now, has been that I could not figure out a good way to use a common cup with shut-ins. All of the little communion “travel kits” made for pastors – at least the ones I’ve seen – use the little cups. In the case of the homebound, the use of individual serving sizes is especially bothersome to me. After all, aren’t they already isolated enough? So, I made my own communion kit for visiting shut-ins. If you can find a store that sells teapots and tea cups, look for the kind used in Japanese and Chinese restaurants – the small, handleless kind. There are many varieties, but I’ve chosen one that looks like handmade pottery. You can also use the small dishes made for dipping bread in olive oil as a cup. Next, I found a very small cruet for the wine (juice in this case), a linen napkin in which to wrap a hearty dinner roll that looks like a small loaf of bread, and a small, hard-sided container in which to hold everything. It’s not a solution that leads to world peace, but it does allow the homebound to worship using a common loaf and cup.

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