Liturgies against destruction

Some mornings the paper is simply depressing and the mores that are causing discussions in the androsphere are equally sad.  Yet another group of women claiming to be traditional but wanting their own desires and their rebellion to be validated. As SSM noted today…

As a devout Christian, traditional gender roles only matter to me to the degree that they conform to biblical morality.  The NeW women are simply trying to get around having any expectations for traditional behavior placed on women while simultaneously demanding traditional behavior from men.  That isn’t biblical, that’s TradCon feminism, and it is no more moral than the liberal kind.

Today’s  readings are about hope. Tomorrow is Christmas, and it is implied that during the period of waiting there will be some suffering. The NZ liturgy, when it talks about this…

Therefore with this bread and wine we recall your goodness to us.

God of the past and present, we your people remember your Son. We thank you for his cross and rising again, we take courage from his ascension; we look for his coming in glory and in him we give ourselves to you.

Send your Holy Spirit, that we who receive Christ’s body may indeed be the body of Christ, and we who share his cup draw strength from the one true vine.

Called to follow Christ, help us to reconcile and unite. Called to suffer, give us hope in our calling.

For you, the heavenly one, make all things new; you are the beginning and the end, the last and the first.

Praise, glory and love be yours, this and every day, from us and all people, here and everywhere. Amen.

But the suffering does not continue. we may be in a period of waiting. but the period will end.  One of the things that we meet in church for is to share and support each other through suffering, We should be praying for each other, and we should be filling to food bank. But we alos need to be seeing that there is hope there.

Isaiah 35:1-10


1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 3Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 10And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This hope is made apparent in people being able to see — literally at times, but metaphorically more often. We should be able to see past the lies of our society, and see that we are not only of this place. I’ve quoted from the Anglican Prayer book already today, but their lines about glorifying nature in the alternate services talk about bush (forest) and sea… locally true and resonant, but not universal. (The main service, God be praised, is universal).

Liturgy matters, and all churches have liturgy. One of the things that I noted with son one (who is the introvert of a quite introverted family is that the Anglican service left him in a reflectve mood — and we go to a quite overtly liturgical presbyterian congregation. Doing things well matters, as Damien Thompson notes.

In the end, leadership goes hand in hand with an attention to detail that can spill over into demanding perfectionism. This is as true of the Church as it is of society as a whole. As Nicky Gumbel says, Christian leaders can offend people — not by accident, as the current Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster manage to do, but semi-deliberately, because they know that worship and evangelism lose their edge at the first sign of sloppiness. A spirit of amateurism has been sucking the life out of English Christianity for decades now; we’ll know very soon if Justin Welby can use the lessons of HTB to breathe some of it back in.

Now, the issue is not necessarily one of execution. Your pianist can lose his place (the one on Sunday got caught up in a transition from Gounoud to and English Hymn). You can make mistakes. The liturgy ins not drtll, and the liturgy itself must never become and idol.

But we need to take what we do seriously, and that does mean attention to detail, and (as a musician) rehearsal and practice.  (Ad that requires planning, not just choosing songs on the fly. If you do that, you better be a good at improvising on your main instrument, and be working solo).

The Psalm for this day is one that can be sung properly… and has crossed over (via Michelle Shocked) into popular culture. It reminds us that whenwe see no hope. God intervenes.

Psalm 114 

1When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

3The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

5Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?

7Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.