6.December.2015, #325

I wrote a liturgy for Advent.

Here is the second Sunday - Peace.

Also, Tim Cahill was born today in 1979. Here he is with an absolute gem in Brazil last year.

Posted on December 5, 2015 .

18.October.2015, #318

This is the list of songs, here is the explanation

(I'm not sure what happened to the Robbie Seay version of this song, this is the only one I could find on Youtube)

Posted on October 19, 2015 .

11.October.2015, #317

Our pal Jenny Snipstead lead the music this past weekend, and she graced us with an original song. Enjoy!

We are the house where you will dwell

So build it strong and build it well

Let your light pour from our windows

Let the weak walk through our doors

Help us to love each other, better than before  

Cause in your house-the hungry will be fed

And In your house I can always find a friend

The thirsty will drink deep And weary eyes will sleep

The outcast shares a table with the King

In your house

Build our foundation on what’s true

Your perfect love will be the glue

Build the pillars tall and mighty

We don’t want to build in vain

You say the one who trusts in you is never put to shame

‘Cause in your house the lonely are brought near

And in your house there’s nothing I should fear

Our hearts will be made strong

Cause we know where we belong

The door is open wide to all who come

To your house  

Cause in your house-the hungry will be fed

And In your house

I can always find a friend

The thirsty will drink deep

And weary eyes will sleep

The outcasts shares a table with the King

In your house

Posted on October 12, 2015 .

26.July.2015, #306

Scripture was Acts 17:1-9, and the theme was How does the truth of the gospel change the cultural rules of engagement? Paul goes to Athens and does his thing, the thing he finds necessary based on his reading of the Gospel, and it doesn't go over well with the natives. The second half of our musical/liturgical portion was in keeping with that theme (hence Neil Young questioning how we should be conceiving of God and the prayer about failing to love like Jesus), but for the first part I decided to flip the question to How does the truth of the gospel change?  A very interesting question indeed.  We started by singing some songs that in the Church's history have been very popular, and then we did a confession in light of the fact that we have very clearly gotten it wrong very often.  The songs are pretty thoroughly offensive so I'm not even dignifying them with a post; you can click through if need be.

The Lord's Army here

Onward, Christian Soldiers here

Lead On, O King Eternal here

Redeeming God,
We confess that we have too often got it wrong,
As a church, as a religion, as a country, as individuals.
Too often we have mistaken our assessment of our own situation for your assessment of the world, and we have placed ourselves firmly in the right with little regard for others.
Forgive us.
Half the world diets, while the other half hungers.
Half the world is housed comfortably, while the other half is struggles for proper shelter.
Half the world pursues profit, while the other half senses loss.
Redeem our souls,
redeem our peoples,
redeem our times.
Give us this day the scrubbing that each of our hearts distinctly need.
Lead us not into hypocrisy,
but deliver us from arrogance and self-righteousness.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation, not our meager versions.
For you are the God who can.
We who stand in the world offer ourselves and our society for your blessed healing.
We confess we have failed to love as you did.
We have been socially unjust, and our society is imperfect, fragmented, and sometimes sick to death.
Teach us your ways in the world and in this life which we share together.
Don’t let us restrict you to a narrow ghetto labeled ‘religion,’ but lead us to worship you in the fullness of life as the Lord of politics, economics, and the arts.
Give us light to seek true morality, not in narrow legalisms but in sacrifice and open responsibility.
Show us how to express our love for you in very specific, human service to other people.
Lord, change our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, and let us give thanks to you for all of life.

The fuller explanation is here

Posted on August 10, 2015 .

2.August.2015, #307

Amidst all this tragedy, I am proud to live in a country that has managed to hold its head up high at a critical time. I have been impressed by the dignity, compassion and resolve I have met. We are a small country, but a proud people. We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values.

Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity. But never naivety. No one has said it better than the Labour Youth League girl who was interviewed by CNN: ‘If one man can create that much hate, you can only imagine how much love we as a togetherness can create.’
— Nato Jens Stoltenberg
If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
— Malcom X

Here is the explanation of these things

Posted on August 10, 2015 .

9.August.2015, #308

Father, give to us, and to all your people, in times of anxiety, serenity; in times of hardship, courage; in times of uncertainty, patience; and, at all times, a quiet trust in your wisdom and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— New Every Morning (btw idk what this is)
Lord Christ,
help us to have the courage and humility to name our burdens
and lay them down
so that we are light to walk across the water
to where you beckon us

Our pride,
armoring us,
hardening us,
making us defend our dignity by belittling others
We name it
and we lay it down.

The memory of hurts and insults,
driving us to lash out,
to strike back
We name it
and we lay it down.

Our antagonism against those
whose actions, differences, presence,
threaten our comfort or security
We name it
and we lay it down.

Our fear,
of unsolved questions,
of the unknown,
of fear itself,
We name it
and we lay it down.

We do not need these burdens,
but we have grown used to carrying them,
have forgotten what it is like to be light.

Beckon us to lightness of being,
for you show us it is not unbearable.
Only so can we close the distance
Only so can we walk upon the water.

It is so.
Blessed are you, Lord Christ, who makes heavy burdens light.
— Kathy Galloway (Iona Community)
Jesus, you who are meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being celebrated,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being smeared,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me, Jesus.
— Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val (Secretary to Pope Pius X)

Here is the explanation of these things, btw I started a blog in order to work through not just NVC stuff but my other worship-leading obligations as well.

Posted on August 7, 2015 .

19.July.2015, #305

We sponsored/supported an Artwalk in the local community a few weeks ago - by all accounts a resounding success - and we're going to do a reflection.  So I suppose the theme is the arts, in which case I'm at a loss as to what songs to utilize, at least with regard to hymns or typical "worship" fare.  So here's the plan: Beautiful Things by Gungor mashed with the chorus of I Am Nothing Without Love by Nate Reuss.  Play them both straight, skip the loud part of Beautiful Things (totally unnecessary in my opinion), and just revel in how God takes what we have and what we are and puts it to good use and calls us to do the same.

Speaking of art, Degas was born on this day in 1834.  Thank God for Degas.

Posted on July 16, 2015 .

12.July.2015, #304

Our text today was Acts 10:34-48, where the Spirit further widens its reach.  The theme was: limiting our expectations on God serves to make God more manageable in our lives.  We also continued our over and above focus on race.  The two themes were loosely connected by the sermon and the words of institution, but mostly I focused on the latter.  Which made for a bunch of fun mashup songs.

Part 1:

Yahweh by U2.  I swapped the chorus for the chorus of Like an Avalanche, the idea being that as God changes us, redeems us, works on us, God does so in an entirely grace-filled manner.  At the end we sang just the middle section of Give Us Clean Hands, the part that says “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our souls to another.”

Part 2:

Blowin in the Wind by Bob Dylan, which I ended (again) with Give Us Clean Hands.  This came after a dance that included, among many other things, a long (and partial) list of the recent victims of violence against African-Americans.  What other response could there be besides Dylan’s rhetorical questions?  This is a case in which the “secular” utterly outdoes the “sacred”.

Part 3:

Elvis Costello’s Peace Love Understanding, which I think was written by Nick Lowe but I’m too lazy to check at the moment.  Following each of the choruses I mixed in the chorus from the still-yet-to-be-decently-recorded version of Lord, Make Us Instruments of Your Peace.  And, of course, ended it with that smidge of Give Us Clean Hands.  Followed by a big old prayer from someone named Barbara Blossom.

Posted on July 13, 2015 .

28.June.2015, #302

We're doing a 4-week-long over and above, except instead of donating money to a certain cause we're giving extra attention to the issue of race in America & American churches, specifically focusing on the African-American community in light of the recent events in Charleston.  So the first half of the service was varied and lengthy: we sang 3 songs, had 3 readings, had a ritual with candles, followed by 2 more songs, and finished with a confession.

When God Made Me, from Neil Young, followed by Rich & Poor, from Robbie Seay, followed by one I wrote called Fill Us.  Then the quotes:

The totally self-sufficient person is subhuman, for none of us comes fully formed into the world. I need other human beings in order to be human myself.
— Desmond Tutu
Humanism starts not with identity but with the ability to identify with others. It asks what we have in common with others while acknowledging the internal diversity among ourselves. It is about the priority of a shared humanity.
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
By ceasing to make our individual differences a basis of competition and by recognizing these differences as potential contributions to a life together, we begin to hear the call to community.
In and through Christ, people of different ages and lifestyles, from different races and classes, with different languages and education, can join together and witness to God’s compassionate presence in our world.
There are many common-interest groups, and most of them seem to exist in order to defend or protect something. Although these groups often fulfill important tasks in our society, the Christian community is a different nature.
When we form a Christian community, we come together not because of similar experiences, knowledge, problems, color, or gender, but because we have been called together by the same Lord.
Only God enables us to cross the many bridges that separate us; only God allows us to recognize each other as members of the same human family; and only God frees us to pay careful attention to each other.
That is why those who are gathered together in community are witnesses to the compassionate Lord. By the way they are able to carry each other’s burdens and share each other’s joys, they testify to God’s presence in our world.
— Henri Nouwen

The ritual involved this picture.  For each of the 9 names read there was a brief biography, and a candle was blown out.  Then the 9 candles were re-lit as 9 passages from Scripture were read that relate in some way to resurrection.

We then sang We Shall Overcome, by Pete Seeger, followed by Create In Me, by Keith Green.  As a close, we sang "We'll BE overcome" before reciting this confession together.

Hands who touched the leper, touch my wounded heart;
Hands who healed the blind man, heal my aching soul;
Hands who cured the lame, mend my disjointed life;
Hands who embrace all life, enfold me in your peace.
Lord, merely touch and heal, cure and forgive.
This is my prayer to you, my Lord.
— Rabindranath Tagore
Posted on June 30, 2015 .

14.June.2015, #300

I'm generally not a fan of recent worship music contributions, but this one's fine. I'm not sure what they mean by "You surround me with a song of deliverance from my enemies", so I've told myself a story about how it refers to the author's drug habit, which he's trying to kick, and therefore deliverance from that enemy is very much something to sing about (like I said, I'm making this up, in order to make such a lyric palatable). That's all beside the point actually, because we only sang the chorus of the song, which I find extremely compelling. "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God."

I changed the word fear to as many other "enemies" and things to create or sustain bondage that I could think of. So it went like this:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to routine
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to bitterness
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to pride
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to arrogance
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to money
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to success
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to jealousy
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to ignorance
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to weakness
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to indifference
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to apathy
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to worry
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to discontentment
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to sorrow
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to the past
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
Posted on June 30, 2015 .

31.May.2015, #298

Prior to singing this song, we had a moment of reflection on this prayer. This is one I use pretty regularly, as I find it to be one of the more compelling and provocative statements one can make about the body of Christ.

God of love, help us to remember
that Christ has no body now on earth but ours,
no hands but ours, no feet but ours.
Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world.
Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now.
Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
— St. Teresa
Posted on June 14, 2015 .