Friday, February 29, 2008

It's just a cap

A hat, its just a hat, a cap for that but so much more to some. On or off, off or on, that cap they wish would come. A young boy brave to church he comes a cap upon his head. Grateful our hearts should be, a young teenage boy to church he comes despite mocking from his peer. He stands to read his cap pulled low he calls us to our knees. They will not bow, they will not sing, they will not move - the cap is all they see. In higher judgment council meets the subject brought to dock. The cap must fall, the cap must fall, instead the sound of footsteps heard as cap walks out the door.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bill Bryson - Shakespeare & the Puritans

On the shelves of any book store you will find Bill Bryson's latest book - "Shakespeare." He has an uncanny knack of taking you to a time or place and making you part of the furniture. In this book you get a real sense of London from as early as 1565 and how these folk lived. The laws that dictated dress code for different classes, the baiting of bears and monkeys with rabid dogs for entertainment alongside theater such as "Romeo and Juliet." The worst of it is that (I forget the date) but the Puritans who were vehemently against such folly and the dressing up of young boys as girls etc. were responsible for closing all of these theaters one after the other. They were as bad as the plague in destroying the culture and life of the people. Christian's can be such kill joys.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Those frightened of the Church

I went to visit a family who showed visible signs of church phobia. One has to realize very quickly that you are not you but a symbol of the church intruding on home turf. The new minister may be offended by the off hand treatment he/she gets when people deliberately walk out of the room and are never seen again. When the conversation is so stilted you have to resort to anything to help the folk feel at ease in your company. We are meant to be bearers of good news but for some we bring all the trappings of the darker side of the church that has bruised, rejected and trampled on soft souls. God help us to break the mold.. Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to have tea with the Queen - an excercise of Worship

If you ever intend having the queen over for tea please remember the protocol before you send the invite. Using this as an illustration in my next sermon examining our elements (protocol) of Worship.
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[ image:  ]
[ image: Formalities were still observed]

And men have to bow. Bowing on the face of it seems quite a complicated affair. Bowing from the waist is definitely out, and "strictly for the pantomime" according to the Spectator.

Instead men should either bow from the shoulders, or bob from the neck.
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Stations of the Cross - a Resource for Holy Week

For the more classical of heart this provides a meditative journey through the ten stations with music from Bach and Handel and paintings by Caravaggio. One could adapt the concept for you services although it is meant for private devotion.
Ten Stations of the Cross
The First Station:

The Arrest of Jesus

Picture: Caravaggio: The Taking of Christ     [large picture]

Music: J.S. Bach. Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen from the St Matthew Passion.  Sung by the Cologne Cathedral Children's Choir and the Dresden Chamber Choir with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Helmut Muller-Bruhl.  Licensed courtesy of Naxos.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Disciple Bible Study

This is the fourth time I have run this 34 week programme in a church. For those who endure and make the effort it is a life changing experience. So many folk are wanting to walk a deeper walk and are tired of the pith that is so often given to them as Christian education. This provides a well balanced approach to the study of scripture with a the idea of transformation versus information as its goal. For those interested go here for more information.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Symbols not Cymbals

We have enjoyed John Van der Laar's seminar up here in Pietermaritzburg. John's sensitivity to worship culture was most encouraging. The 'convert' factor is eliminated when we recognize the worth in other styles of Worship. The culture flux means that we need to be in flux with our worship style. The Church needs to be adapting its style (not principles) of worship in connection with the world it lives in. We may not have 'youth' in our church, but if we don't somewhere adapt our style of worship for youth we will never have youth finding our worship meaningful and the same applies with the elderly. It all depends on our context. At the same time we are not dictated too by the society we live in. Let us stick to the principles, be sensitive to the worshipers, and listen to the culture before choosing what symbol we choose.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Quieter Response of "Praise"!

Standing at the door of a church we hear all kinds of feedback. That which we grin, bear and then forget. That which we know comes from a kind heart but is a blatant lie. That which annoys us profusely because they missed the point. That which is meant to be instruction but comes out as command. The well worded, thought through response from those who don't normally speak. The worst is silence! That quite acknowledgment of greeting with no words, no sign of thanks, no sign of appreciation, no sign of disappointments, no sign of "I didn't like!" I have said this countless times before that sometimes the most stressful part of Sunday mornings is the shaking of hands after the service as folk go home.

For those who have followed my blog over the last weeks will know I have been doing some changes to our Worship on Sunday. Last week there was a tangible acknowledgment by folk that this was a good thing. This week there was a quieter response of "Praise!" How does one read this? No news is good news? Should I bend somebodies arm to find out? Do I set up a survey? Get a good sample group and have a workshop?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Chet Raymo - keeping multiple husbands on your back!

I found the blog of an author who wrote a book I read some back that still sits on my shelf called, "Skeptics and True believers." If I remember he was Catholic or Ex-Catholic and he was a lecturer at Boston University in the subject of astronomy. He puts the Universe into terms we can relate to. Here is his latest blog entry about how society inhibitions of the Victorian era might have thwarted certain research and discussion.

Science Musings Blog

His work on barnacles was particularly important. He was intrigued by the fact that female barnacles had little pockets on their bodies in which they kept multiple "husbands." Part of his problem was convincing his scientific colleagues that these little organisms were males of the same species, rather than parasites. Elsewhere he describes the penis of one species of male barnacle as being "wonderfully developed", lying "coiled up, like a great worm" and when extended between eight and nine times the length of the animal. Heaven forfend that the eyes of a proper lady should fall upon such a description.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

Richard Dawkins & Craig Venter - LIFE: A GENE-CENTRIC VIEW

Before the now well known book "God delusion" Dawkins wrote a book the "Selfish Gene" which I read some years back and it certainly altered my world view. Venter is at the forefront in creating artificial life. Here they are at Conference on the same platform. I wouldn't try this on a dial-in internet connection. The prelude is rather a ramble.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

AA for Ex-Pentecostals!

An ex-pentecostal myself this proved to be an interesting visit. Not wanting to jump on anybodies theological toes but heck, didn't know such a thing existed.
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No Longer Jew or Greek - Boomer or X

Yes, we are all one in Christ. Should that not reflect in our Worship on a Sunday? We have been 'called' out of a secular divided world to eat around the same table, mindful of our relationships one with another. I find it helpful to divide the generations into categories to understand their needs, issues and expectations. The Silent, Boomer, X, Millennial and all of that. However it can be another excuse to keep us separate and divided if it is not seen as a tool to keep us together because we understand each other. Are we really that different? And surely we have much to learn from other generations. A wasteful, spend thrift, globe burning Boomer generation need to learn from the Silent who know how to conserve, look after, and cherish their resources. We need each other.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Self Centred Worship in a Multi-Cultural Country

What kind of generation are we in? That is rather a broad question, but self centered ambition seems to rule in many areas including the Church and its Worship. Shoot me down if I am wrong but we are too quick to want 'my way' of doing things. We are too quick to assert our rights and our privileges and to blows with the rest who think differently, sing differently, pray differently as long as I get my own way. In South Africa our greatest threat is mistrust and segmented lifestyles that never mingle. Our Worship as the Church should be united in all possible ways to be the witnessing alternative community we ought to be. If music preference divides, then heaven help us when it comes to greater issues.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All together now... Intergenerational Worship Bliss!

We experienced our corporate worship as a whole family last Sunday. The congregation sacrificed their preferences to come together and find themselves in common unified worship. The tensions of music preference, worship patterns, young and old melted in the joy of being together again. The response from most parties was overwhelming. The lesson being learnt is that God’s way of life is more important than our songs. Our lives together in worship is more meaningful than whether we have the correct liturgy or the ‘authentic’ flow of worship. The sacrifice of Christ became central in our focus and we appreciated the heart of our worship that in the end had nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God in Christ through the Spirit.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gospels side by side - Good place to compare text

I have used this from time to time over the years. It places the relevant Gospel texts side by side for you to see similarities and differences.

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The Five Gospels Parallels
Edited by John W. Marshall. 1996 - 2001
Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

The Five Gospels

The Four Canonicals

Five + Paul with Lower Window

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Images of Muhammad cause protest

Interesting how sensitive we are to God's likes and dislikes. I wonder if God really cares? I don't think so. However I am 'sure' the Christian God cares a lot about the portrayal of Jesus on some coffee mugs!!! In some ways I completely agree that we should stop trying to portray the likeness of Jesus - it is usually a tad nauseous to my likes, let alone God!
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International Herald Tribune

Online petition asks Wikipedia to remove pictures of Muhammad

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