This Week’s Entries
I’ve written a lot about worship this week that I do not usually say. I am not sure if it is because things have just upset me more than they usually do this week or because I am writing a paper on contemporary worship and am more attuned to what is going on around me.
The results of the survey were overwhelmingly in favor of “blended worship” in which liturgy is maintained but some contemporary elements are used. This did not surprise me too much because most of the “contemporary” services I attend are mostly older people (i.e. 65-70 year olds). The “gen-X” services that work in the Lutheran church are occasionally the “contemporary” services that seek to copy the way they do things in the Vineyard churches but mostly the services where there is a sense of integrity maintained with some newer music. Community Church of Joy, probably the largest church in the ELCA, does things similar to the Vineyard, but they’ve lost their Lutheran identity and become just another mega-church. While I know that mega-churches are just serving their communities, it does beg the question of what their parishioners will do when they move and their local Lutheran church is nothing like that.
After the amount of thinking that I’ve done, I’ve realized that I would probably not be OK with the idea of starting a contemporary service if I was a pastor unless the exact words of the call committee were, “we want to bring more people to Jesus Christ” and not “we want to attract more people to our church.” I know plenty of churches that do worship well but are unfriendly. There are also churches that make a mockery of worship but are very friendly. My first thought on attracting people would be to make sure that whatever worship we were doing was done well. I would also want to take whatever steps were necessary to make sure that visitors felt welcomed and were able to get through the service without getting lost. There are ways of doing this without eliminating liturgy altogether.
Life In General
I have been so overwhelmed and exhausted lately. I was planning on taking my permit test this week only to have those plans shot down by having to schedule my table practice (basically demonstrating how you preside and assist at the Eucharist) today after chapel and having to go to worship team practice this afternoon. My devotional life has been random at best and I wasn’t even getting into the music in chapel today or at worship team practice. I think the retreat tomorrow will be beneficial to refocus me. I’ve been letting devotions slip because it’s hard for me to do them with someone else around. (And no Jon, it’s not your fault. I had the same problem while living with Carolyn.) I know it’s something that I have to get used to doing, but it is a really difficult change. I think it stems from having to be so secretive when I was home.
My wonderful and loving in-laws sent me a $25 gift certificate for Amazon.Com as a birthday present. (My birthday is the 19th. I’m really good at languages so it’s not surprising that I’m a Pentecost baby.) With it, I got the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (because Jon and I are in desperate need of recipes and would *love* to find ones that we can cook and freeze and refrigerate for days when the two of us have meetings) and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which I read in my junior honors English class.
I went to see the new kitten that my friends Kristi and Galen just got. It was a kitten that some other friends of ours had found in their apartment parking lot that was in dire need of a home. The poor kitten had a bite wound to the tail and looked pretty awful. They took it home, bathed it, and took it to the vet. When I came over tonight to see it, Kirby (the kitten) looked *so* much better. He has part of the fur on his tail shaved off so that they could fix the bite wound and the fur around his neck looks like someone had either a rope or a really tight collar on it because it seems worn and Kirby is really sensitive about anyone touching it. He let me feel it (but then again, I have positive cat karma and I know how to do it without scaring the cat) and it does feel like he has some sores there. He is a very adorable light-colored tabby though and he is incredibly affectionate. I was sitting down in the basement where they are having to quarantine him and he came over and climbed into my lap and curled up in a purring ball. Jon and I were supposed to be the ones to have him but we can’t have a cat in the apartment we’re in so we’ve got visitation rights at Kristi and Galen’s. We’re also cat-sitting for them in two weeks so I’ll probably get lots of kitty time then. Their other cat, Mimi, is not amused at the moment because she has ceased to be the center of attention. 🙂
Jon is going canoeing this weekend so I have the apartment to myself. I’m going to go see a friend’s new kitten tonight. (I know…. Jen will get to pet a kiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!) I’ll also debate over whether to go to the retreat tomorrow.
If I don’t go on the retreat tomorrow, I’ll probably do things I need to do, such as go grocery-shopping (how I wish I lived within walking distance of a good organic market…) and mail my cell phone, wedding album, and other things to my mom. I should also do some meal planning so I can gauge what I need and how to arrange it so that I don’t end up having to go to Four Bakers for lunch like I did today. (Although my lunch was probably the only meal I’ll eat today. For $5, they give you a sandwich, chips, fruit, pickle, and cookies.)
New Testament I has been fun lately as we’ve been just going over the Gospels one at a time. We’ve done Luke and Acts this last week and it’s been beneficial. We looked at the emphases in Luke and found some to be: food as a metaphor for inclusion in the kingdom, the role of women in ministry, persistence in prayer, and rich vs. poor issues. We’re also discussing sacraments in my Systematic Theology class and debating the pluses and minuses of infant baptism.
Oh yes… and a link for you cat people. (Thanks Tina!)
If you’re from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and you stumble across this entry, please leave promptly, especially if you’re part of the “Jesus Posse” that perpetrated one of the worst worship experiences in my life this morning.
The I-Group doing worship this week decided to do a week of contemporary worship. This would be fine… if they knew how to do it well!!!! Yesterday, they started off well and got people into it but then chose to add a keyboard and put some really nasty and cheesy synthesizer sounds into it. The synthesizer was distracting. They also have about 10 people up there with only two vocalists, meaning that you can’t hear the two people who are supposed to be LEADING.
Today was one of the top five worst worship experiences of my life. They started off with “Shout to the Lord” which is a beautiful song — except that they did it at speed metal pace and started at a strange place. Normally you give an introduction of a few bars. They gave ONE bar of introduction and then went at it like bats out of hell. You also could not hear the singers over the guitars and bass, meaning that the repeats were useless. The middle song was done pretty well. The last song employed the use of that odious synthesizer. If this is what their idea of contemporary worship is, the rest of this week is going to be awful for me since I have to be in chapel both Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday, I’m ushering and on Thursday, I volunteered to help with a song (which is NOT part of what the “Jesus Posse” is doing thankfully).
Maybe I’m just jealous because they didn’t ask me to do it (even though I’ve led worship on REAL worship teams since I was 17) and this could be a large part of it. It could also be that nothing irritates me more than badly done contemporary worship. I would NEVER attend a church that did it as badly as it was done this morning. If you do it at a church, you usually get professional musicians or at least people who play extraordinarily well. If you don’t, it sounds like badly done campfire worship. We used to have to *try out* for the worship team for Intervarsity. The worship team at High Street had professionals doing the music and these were people who had worked together for a long time. The singers were from the congregation but all of us had at least some experience.
If any of you have suggestions for how to make it through the rest of the week, please let me know. I left chapel today in a panic attack because I felt so uncomfortable there.
Jon and I are catsitting a beautiful white cat named Lily while her owner and another classmate put some furniture together. She is such a funny cat. She was playing “jungle cat” for a while and then stretched out with Jon for a little while and is now playing “jungle cat” again. I can’t wait until we can get a cat in September.
We’ve decided re: churches to just worship at the local church. I’m fluent in French so Montréal should not be a problem for me. Jon however is limited to just doing a bad French accent. 🙂 It would be interesting to go to a French Vineyard congregation…
I just finished making the honeymoon plans on Orbitz.Com and we are going to…. [massive drumroll]
We’re spending two weeks hanging out in cities in eastern Canada. (Sorry Brianna — I really want to go back to Victoria some day but that isn’t gonna happen this summer!) We will spend 4 days in Toronto, 5 days in Ottawa, and 4 days in Montréal, before we take the train back to Toronto for our flight out the next day. I was in Toronto five years ago with my mom and I enjoyed it immensely.
Chapel this morning was TaizÃ? prayer and it was beautiful. I was sitting with my friends Mark and Chris. On the Laudate Dominum, I started singing the alto part and then Mark decided to copy me and start singing the bass part. Chris then starts singing tenor. It was cool to have the harmonies going. I also sang the French on some of them which sounded prettier than the English. I love TaizÃ? prayer and wish I had the time to go to the ones held here in Cols but they’re usually on nights when I’m busy. I also wish we’d done it during our I-Group week.
I’ve been reading through the Gospels for my NT class and I’m starting to understand all the theories about their redaction. There is always the question of why the Pharisees had to go to the garden to get Jesus when they could have just arrested Him in person. Did they want to avoid the crowds mobbing them? Did they really think He was that dangerous? I am also reading The Meaning of Jesus by Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright, which is interesting but Borg is driving me up the wall. He wants to claim himself as a Christian but he doesn’t commit to Christ being the Son of God exactly. His argument is “no and yes”. He thinks that Jesus didn’t know that He was the Son of God until after Easter, which is preposterous to me. Do you think that God would send Jesus to earth, let Him die, and then reveal “Hey dude! You’re the Son of God!” He commented on Jesus’ words that “[He] is the Bread of Life” and “[He] is the Light of the World”, saying that “we have psychological diagnoses for people who talk about themselves like that.” (p. 149) At least Wright is orthodox.
Tonight I’m going out with other seminary spouses to say “buh bye” to the Senior Spouses. It should be a really nice dinner. It’s Italian so I might have to indulge in some chicken marsala.
WE HAVE AN INTERNSHIP SITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Newark, Ohio.
Ironically, this is the way I thought it might turn out. More people do prefer straight contemporary worship than plain traditional worship, but the majority of people like a mixture or like both pretty equally. I’ve had Catholics, Lutherans (both LCMS and ELCA), Methodists, Reformed, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Orthodox, and people with very mixed backgrounds respond. Respondents have come from fields such as Biology, Religion, Literature, Theatre, Music, Sociology,and Classics.
Pastor Rauch (Jon’s internship supervisor) took us to lunch at the Monk (the upscale pub across the street from the sem) and it was really nice. We had good conversation, excellent food, and an interesting atmosphere. I was definitely the most casual person in the room as people were in business casual clothing and I was in nice jeans and a nice sweatshirt. One rule I loved: no cell phones allowed. 🙂 (Ringing cell phones in chapel and in class and other public places drive me up the wall!) I had a Mediterranean Vegetable Salad which was OK and some sourdough bread which reminded me of home. (It was the best sourdough I’ve had outside of California.)
Jon is at an Ascension service tonight so I’m chilling at the apartment. It’s so nice to have a quiet night. While I’m home by myself, I’m putting the bulletin together for the worship demo that I’m doing with Robin next week. I love doing the bulletins so it should be really fun.