Thinking Out Loud

July 10, 2017

If I Pray It But Don’t Live It

Yesterday and today we’re featuring the better writer in the family, my loving wife Ruth Wilkinson. This is a liturgical type of reading she wrote for our church service last week.

If I pray “Our Father”
and then fail to come to you as a child, trusting and learning –
Forgive me.

If I pray “who art in Heaven”
and then spend all my energy on earthly things –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Holy is your name”
and then, carrying your name, live unholy –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done”
and then fail to listen for and obey your voice on Earth –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Give us our daily bread”
and then ignore the immediate and desperate needs of others –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”
and then choose to go where I know I’ll be tempted –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Yours is the kingdom”
and then fight for my own rights and my own way –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Yours is the power”
and then live according to what my neighbours or friends or society might say or do –
Forgive me.

If I pray “Forgive me”
and then hold grudges and dig in my heels –
Lead me in your way.
Give me your strength, your grace and your love for those around me.

So that I can pray “Amen”.

“So be it.”

“Cost what it may, this is my prayer.”

Forever.

Amen.

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March 26, 2016

A New Holy Week Experience

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:10 am

Last night for the first time, we attended a Tenebrae service in an Anglican (Canadian equivalent of Episcopal) Church. We like adventure. Wikipedia defines it best:

Tenebrae (Latin for “shadows” or “darkness”) is a Christian religious service celebrated in the Holy Week within Western Christianity, on the evening before or early morning of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Tenebrae is distinctive for its gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms are chanted or recited.

Very different from the Evangelical service I’d attended almost twelve hours earlier the same day. That one had 1,500 people over 3 services. This one had about 50 of us in a small church building that’s only 4 years away from being 200 years old. No welcome and announcements. No offering. No homily or sermon. No musical instruments. Just 100% scripture, either sung or spoken.

Probably the most striking feature was the use of texts not normally associated with Holy Week. Excerpts from Lamentations, and the use of Psalm 51 (and Psalm 150) seemed unusual given our place in the church calendar. I felt like the idea was to capture the emptiness, the bleakness that The Twelve, the women and the friends of Jesus would have felt at the cross, and that evening, and into Saturday.

What did they talk about? They were scattered somewhat, but they would have had homes to return to. We know some discussed a return to fishing. Did Matthew think about looking up his friends in the Tax Department?

What went through their minds?

That’s my subjective take on it. I can’t speak for what others were thinking. I would love to speak with those who wrote the liturgy.

At the end, the officiants, the choir and the congregation all leave in silence. Actually, we drove several blocks before anyone said anything. I’m a very social person and saw a few people we knew, and normally, on an occasion like this I would have struck up a conversation, but instead we left; us to our home, them to theirs.

My wife described it as “quiet, and thoughtful and centering.”

All in all, it was a service and a form we had never witnessed before where we came with no preconceived notions, no basis of comparison; and left with our thoughts full.


In contrast to the music we heard last night; our video today is a repeat of a song we’ve used here before. At The Foot of the Cross performed by Kathryn Scott.


Yesterday’s post at Christianity 201 started out as a simply copy-and-paste of an older article with a few quick revisions, but was expanded and after and hour of consideration became much more.

October 15, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Sunset - Mark BattersonThis is another photograph in a continuing series by people known to readers here; this sunset was taken Monday night by author and pastor Mark Batterson.

 

On Monday I raked leaves and collected links; you could call it my own little feast of ingathering.

Paul Wilkinson’s wisdom and Christian multi-level business opportunities — “just drop by our house tomorrow night, we have something wonderful we’d like to share with you” — can be gleaned the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201 and in the Twitterverse

From the archives:
The problem with out-of-office email notifications:


Lost in translation: The English is clear enough to lorry drivers – but the Welsh reads “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.” …Read the whole 2008 BBC News story here.

July 9, 2014

Wednesday Link List

???????????????????????????????

I was looking around for pictures of the 2014 Wild Goose Festival, and found this one from 2013.  Anyone know the backstory on this?

Now that the eye burn-in from weekend fireworks has faded, it’s time to see what people have been reading over the past few days:

Not sure of the origin of the picture below. It was captioned, “What Happened to the Dinosaurs” and the picture file was labeled “Shoo!”

What Happened to the Dinosaurs

July 2, 2014

Wednesday Link List

hypocrites

A Happy Independence Day to our U.S. readers and a one-day belated Happy Canada Day to readers in the land north of the 49th. On with the linkage…

When not playing one of the 820 Solitaire variants while listening to sermon podcasts, Paul Wilkinson blogs at at Thinking Out Loud, edits the devotional blog Christianity 201, and provides hints of the following week’s link list on Twitter.

August 6, 2013

The Holy Catholic Church

“…I believe…in the holy catholic church…”

…Wait a minute, the what?

Those words in the Apostles Creed have been a tripping point for both young and old Evangelicals. We even made a last minute modification in our worship slides on Sunday to avoid the terminology. At the blog Internet Monk, in a classic Michael Spencer re-post from 2006, we’re reminded that many Baptists solve the problem by simply dropping the creed altogether.

The article is lengthy, and I know some of you won’t wade through it. But if you desire, especially if you’ve always wondered about that phrase, the link is here. For the record, “catholic” in this sense means “universal.”

Here’s how the article wraps up:

…We need a generous catholicity.” Not a competition where the winner plays the role of the brat, but a humble and sincere attempt to see Christ in his church, and not just in ours. It will not hurt us to say that Christ’s church is larger than our own, or to act like it.

  • We differ on Baptism. Can we agree that Baptism belongs to Christ, and is not dispensed by the church?
  • We differ on matters such as “eternal security” and speaking in tongues. Can we agree that the Holy Spirit manifests himself in his church according to his good pleasure, and not only within the bounds of our preferences (or nice theological conclusions?)
  • We differ on church government. Can we agree that Christ is the head of the church?
  • We differ on how we profess our faith. Can we agree that we receive a brother in Jesus name’ and not our own?
  • We differ on the Lord’s Table. Can we agree that all of us read the same texts with the same passion to be connected to Christ through that table, and that even if we cannot share it together, we can agree that it is our table, and the table where our elder brother seats us all in places of honor?

We differ on much and always will. Can we agree that we are all…all of us…the church catholic? The one, holy, apostolic, blood-bought, inheritance of Jesus? That we are all the fruit of his incarnation and suffering, and that our divisions do not divide Christ (I Corinthians 1:13), but only ourselves from our family?

Looking for an alternative? You could do a lot worse than this one, which I found at this site.

We believe in Jesus Christ the Lord,

* Who was promised to the people of Israel,
* Who came in flesh to dwell among us,
* Who announced the coming of the rule of God,
* Who gathered disciples and taught them,
* Who died on the cross to free us from sin,
* Who rose from the dead to give us life and hope,
* Who reigns in heaven at the right hand of God,
* Who comes to Judge and bring justice to victory.

We believe in God His Father,

* Who raised Him from the dead,
* Who created and sustains the universe,
* Who acts to deliver His people in times of need,
* Who desires all men everywhere to be saved,
* Who rules over the destinies of men and nations,
* Who continues to love men even when they reject Him.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

* Who is the form of God present in the church,
* Who moves men to faith and obedience,
* Who is the guarantee of our deliverance,
* Who leads us to find God’s will in the Word,
* Who assists those whom He renews in prayer,
* Who guides us in discernment,
* Who impels us to act together.

We believe God has made us His people,

* To invite others to follow Christ,
* To encourage one another to deeper commitment,
* To proclaim forgiveness of sins and hope,
* To reconcile men to God through word and deed,
* To bear witness to the power of love over hate,
* To proclaim Jesus the Lord over all,
* To meet the daily tasks of life with purpose,
* To suffer joyfully for the cause of right,
* To the ends of the earth,
* To the end of the age,
* To the praise of His glory.

Amen.

This item first appeared here in August 2010

November 6, 2012

Words on Worship

Faith Today, Canada’s national Evangelical magazine, has dedicated much of their November/December issue to, as they put it, Gospel Music. They don’t mean southern gospel. They don’t mean mass choirs. The very fact that they misname the genres they actually writing about scares me both as a writer and as a musician, but tucked away on page 41 is this great quotation by humorist Garrison Keillor:

“We should pity pastors and other worship leaders. Every Sunday morning they have to stand up in church and interrupt what people came there to do.”

Well, we rather liked that one, and thought we should see what else has been written on this topic, only to find that Matt Stone took care of this for us just a few weeks ago:

BEN PATTERSON

“Evangelism will end, and education, as will prophecy and social service. But worship is forever.”

SALLY MORGENTHALER

“Our worship must cost something, or else it is meaningless. True worship always involves sacrifice. Of course, Jesus is the only sacrifice for sin, once and for all. Yet the term ‘sacrifice’ is not just associated with redemption. The word literally means ‘the act of offering something meaningful and valuable.'”

F. SEIGLER

“It has been suggested that in worship man needs to intellectualize his emotions and emotionalize his intellect.”

CHARLES SWINDOLL

“We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.”

MATT REDMAN

“In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you’re pretending or putting on. It’s got to be an overflow of your heart….. Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God.”

JOHN WIMBER

“Our heart’s desire should be to worship God; we have been designed by God for this purpose. If we don’t worship God, we’ll worship something or someone else.”

THE WESTMINSTER CATECHISM

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

GRAHAM KENDRICK

“Worship in truth is worship that arises out of an actual encounter with God, a response to the experience of knowing God’s real presence and activity in our daily lives. This has nothing to do with sentiment, thinking religious thoughts or having aesthetic experiences in church buildings; any religion can give you that sort of thing.”


About the image: We post a lot of cool worship team pictures here, but I thought to illustrate this one, I’d include something that may be more reflective of what life is like at your local congregation. It was sourced at PhotoBucket, but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact origin.

September 25, 2012

Weekend Worship: We are at a Crossroads

For several months now I have had some misgivings about the sustainability of our present worship paradigm. Now someone has confirmed it…

They’ve grown up dancing, so they long to kneel.  They’ve grown up with masterfully orchestrated services, so they long for worship that may be planned, but never rehearsed.  They’ve grown up with the latest, so they long for the oldest.  They’ve grown up with, “God is here, let’s celebrate!”   They long for “God is here, let’s kneel and be silent.” 

They’ve grown up being urged, “Now, everyone can just worship God however you might want.  Just let the Holy Spirit move you.  We are all different.”  So now some are seeking worship where the implied advice is, “Now, everyone leave your hyper-individuality at the door.  Let’s say words together.  Let’s make gestures together.  Stand together.  Kneel together.  Let’s listen to the wisdom the Holy Spirit has given over the centuries.”

continue reading Sneaking Into Worship by Tom Lawson at Adorate

September 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

This week’s links include:

January 21, 2012

Eugene Peterson: Can You ‘Experience’ Worship?

For several days at Christianity 201, I’ve been sharing my excitement over discovering that Eugene Peterson The Message bible translator is also Eugene Peterson the author. For those of you who’ve known this secret for some time, I apologize for arriving late to the party.  I’m reading The Jesus Way (Eerdman’s) and spreading the reading out over several weeks, which is really what is needed to take it all in.

Each section of the book deals with the different “ways” of living that some choose, including Old Testament characters such as Abraham, Moses and Elijah.  The study of the text is most thorough, but in each section, Peterson breaks away from the text long enough to provide contemporary application.  He minces no words in his concern over the state of the modern church in the west, particularly in North America with which he is most familiar.

The study on Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal yielded these comments:


“Harlotry” is the stock prophetic criticism of the worship of the people who are assimilated to Baalistic forms.  While the prophetic accusation of “harlotry” has a literal reference to the sacred prostitution of the Baal cult, it is also a metaphor that extends its meaning into the entire theology of worship, worship that seeks fulfillment through self-expression, worship that accepts the needs and desires and passions of the worshiper as its baseline.  “Harlotry” is worship that says, “I will give you satisfaction.  You want religious feelings? I will give them to you.  You want your needs fulfilled?  I’ll do it in the form most arousing to you.”  A divine will that sets itself in opposition to the sin-tastes and self-preoccupations of humanity is incomprehensible in Baalism and is so impatiently discarded.  Baalism reduces worship to the spiritual stature of the worshiper.  Its canons are that it should be interesting, relevant and exciting – that I “get something out of it.”

Baal’s Mount Carmel altar lacks neither action nor ecstasy.  The 450 priests put on quite a show.  But the altar call comes up empty.

Yahweh’s altar is presided over by the solitary prophet Elijah.  It is a quiet affair, a worship that is centered on the God of the covenant.  Elijah prepares the altar and prays briefly and simply.  In Yahwism something is said – words that call men and women to serve, love, obey, sing, adore, act responsibly, decide.  Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life.  The proclamation of God’s word and our response to God’s Spirit touches everything that is involved in being human: mind and body, thinking and feeling, work and family, friends and government, buildings and flowers.

Sensory participation is not excluded – how could it be if the whole person is to be presented to God?  When the people of God worship there are bodily postures of standing and kneeling and prostration in prayer.  Sacred dances and antiphonal singing express community solidarity.  Dress and liturgy develop dramatic energies.  Solemn silence sensitizes ears to listen.  But as rich and varied as the sensory life is, it is always defined and ordered by the word of God.  Nothing is done simply for the sake of the sensory experience involved – which eliminates all propagandistic and emotional manipulation.

A frequently used phrase in North American culture that is symptomatic of Baalistic tendencies in worship is “let’s have a worship experience.”  It is the Baalistic perversion of “let us worship God.”  It is the difference between cultivating something that makes sense to an individual, and acting in response to what makes sense to God.  In a “worship experience”, a person sees something that excites him or her and goes about putting spiritual wrappings around it.  A person experiences something in the realm of dependency, anxiety, love, loss, or joy and a connection is made with the ultimate.  Worship becomes a movement from what I see or experience or hear, to prayer or celebration or discussion in a religious setting.  Individual feelings trump the word of God.

Biblically formed people of God do not use the term “worship” as a description of experience, such as “I can have a worship experience with God on the golf course.”  What that means is, “I can have religious feelings reminding me of good things, awesome things, beautiful things nearly any place.”  Which is true enough.  The only thing wrong with the statement is its ignorance, thinking that such experience makes up what the Christian church calls worship.

The biblical usage is very different.  It talks of worship as a response to God’s word in the context of the community of God’s people.  Worship in the biblical sources and in liturgical history is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it, or whether we feel anything about it at all.  The experience develops out of the worship, not the other way around.  Isaiah saw, heard, and felt on the day he received his prophetic call while at worship in the temple – but he didn’t go there in order to have a “seraphim experience”.

At the Mount Carmel Yahweh altar things are very different.  Elijah prays briefly.  The fire falls.  The altar call brings “all the people” to their knees.  They make their decision: “Yahweh, he is God; Yahweh, he is God.” And then the rain comes.

~Eugene Peterson

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