I’ve had miscellaneous thoughts on faith that are kind of developing a little bit at a time. To maybe flesh them out and make space for things related to my job interview tomorrow (!!!), I’m blogging them.
In my devotional reading on Monday, the author commented on people who “try to live from one dramatic mountaintop experience to another”, whose relationship with Christ is “based on their feelings at the moment”, and who “go from Bible conferences to seminars to Bible studies trying to maintain an emotional high”. I tried to be one of those people and that really failed when my depression got horrendously awful during my second year of college. We in America tend to have a feelings-based faith and this is really not quite what is intended for us. Many of us don’t have to think about where our next piece of bread is coming from, so we sometimes fail to understand the whole joy concept that comes when you see God work powerfully in your life to provide that bread.
I was talking with a friend of mine who had been to the candidacy retreat for our synod. She told me that our bishop had talked of his experiences at the Lutheran World Federation meeting in Canada and of being the room when the bishops were discussing the gay clergy issue. The bishops from Africa, Asia, and Latin America would all argue their position against gay clergy intellectually and theologically. The European and American bishops would use anecdotes and feelings in their arguments. Does anyone else see a problem here? We are having such a hard time with the issue because we aren’t speaking on the same terms. I think that we need to be more in touch with the Word in our Christian lives and not solely with our feelings. The most powerful “Jesus times” I’ve had have all been centered around Scripture either in spoken word or in music, and I think there is something to that.
This is probably the monthly “Jen loves liturgy and thinks it’s better than free-form worship” thought but… when I was pondering curriculum for someone I might be prepping for baptism, I was pondering how our church year is cyclical and goes through the life of Jesus and the church. It starts with Advent in late November/early December and culminates with Christ the King Sunday the next November. Advent is the Old Testament prophecies surrounding the promised sending of a Messiah; Christmas is the birth of Jesus; Epiphany is His life and ministry; Lent is his 40 days in the wilderness; Holy Week is the last week of His life; the Triduum is His death and burial; Easter is His glorious resurrection; Pentecost is the life of His Church; and Christ the King Sunday is kind of like the end of the Book of Revelation. As one of those freaks who loves Lent and Advent, this cyclical thing is cool — it serves to remind us of the story of the One who we serve and also includes us in the story.
We had the kick-off for choirs last night at the house of one of the couples who does both choir and bells and part of the night was going through music for the first couple weeks. We’re having to still worship in the fellowship hall because the sanctuary is still in pieces (we’re putting in a new heating/air-conditioning system and the completion date is now a month later than planned) and all our choir music has to be “piano-friendly” because of this. Much of the music we’re doing is “textually-based” as in it’s a text from Scripture put to music and as Judy (our choir director) commented, most of us can sing the lessons read in worship because we’ve sung so many texts.
We are singing Fauré’s Requiem for All Saints’ Sunday and I’m thinking that I will so have to fly back to sing it with them if we’re at another call by that time. Judy picked it because we’ve had such a hard summer in terms of the 9 or 10 funerals that have happened since June 15th. (We had two funerals last week and we have yet another one this Sunday afternoon.) This brought back to mind the comment on how we can sing most of our lectionary and it morphed into the thankfulness that I sing in a choir whose director understands the importance of music being appropriate for worship. Granted, we do special music for that day anyway but the Requiem by Fauré is mellow compared to the Requiem by Verdi or the one by Mozart. The latter two are BIG production numbers, while Fauré’s is fit to be sung in worship.
When in our music God is glorified…
Along the lines of the last musing is the thoughts relating to how essential music is to the Lutheran understanding of Christianity. I mean, we’re the church from whence greats like Bach came and most Lutherans grow up on Bach either through organ pieces in worship or through singing his arrangements of some of the hymns in the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW). Every Lutheran church has a choir and while some may be absolutely horrid, the choir sings at EVERY service and helps to lead music in the service. At Jon’s internship parish, the choir has been known to out-number the parishoners during blizzards and we definitely can out-sing them even with a full church. 🙂 Almost every Lutheran has at least 1/5 of the text of the hymns in the LBW memorized (which I can say with fairly good certainty as I watch people sing as they process up for Communion) and probably 60% of the tunes as they tend to repeat from hymn to hymn. One of the things that attracted me to Lutheranism was the fact that they have such a rich musical tradition and that many grow up with at least some musical training even if it isn’t extensive. Music is such a big part of worship that it helps me to be in a church where music is paid attention and where people understand that the lyrics of the hymns frequently are for both aesthetic and edification purposes.
OK… I think I should probably let my mind rest and head to bed now.