Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The River and the Ocean

For some reason 2 am is when my brain best functions. Not if I wake up at 2, but if I am up till 2, hold on to your hats, because I turn into an idea machine... Not really, but some of my favorite blogs have come out of late nights of talking and thinking. The few sermons I have written were all products of 1 AM closing shifts at my last job... get home at 1:30 AM, get in bed...bing...Idea and then within 20 minutes, I am done... and the world moves on.

Last night was one of those nights. Idea comes, knocking on my brain. I think "no, I will just remember this in the morning." Idea says "know you won't." "You are right." I reply... and the next 40 minutes or so is spent jotting down ideas and madly crossing them out. I wake up to find some inane scribble and here we are.

In my recent readings on Worship and study of the subject I came across the book "Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace" by James B. Torrence. This short book goes over (in four sections) the idea that when it all comes down to it, the understanding of Trinitarian theology is the most essential aspect of our worship. If we have an understanding of the three in one - one in three, everything else will follow. It goes much deeper than that, but the basic idea of Trinitarian theology is that in worship, we need to focus on, or at lease acknowledge the Father, the Son and the Spirit and do this in the context of their specific duties of King (Father), Priest (the Son) and Prophet (the Spirit).

I was talking with a friend the other day on this topic and he said something interesting. "Well, when I say God, I mean all three." This kind of struck me, because until recently, this has been my thinking as well. And in reality, it is true. He went on to say "The idea of the trinity is cool and real, but it is hard to hold on to for people, it's kind of a weird idea and a mind boggling concept." I totally get that. In most of our views of the trinity, we are cool with God, Jesus is our friend (I have a friend in jesus!..lol) and the Spirit is like a weird uncle.

As I was thinking about this last night, a story started to develop in my brain (it was 2 am after all).

Picture a village. This small village is totally sustained by a river just a stones throw away. The river provides them with food, water, energy, play, resources and a way to get to other villages down river. Everything the villagers need is based around this river, and life is good!
Now, lets zoom out. The river is actuary a tributary of a mighty ocean. This ocean is only a few hundred yards away, but none of the villagers have ever wanted to see it. They have seen the huge fish in the ocean, captured by other villages. They have heard the crashing waves and have heard that where the water and land meet, you can see the edge of the world. How can the world just end? Where does this all come from? The idea is dumbfounding and honestly a little hard to wrap a brain around.

The villagers can live off of the tributary, so what are they missing? They have everything they need, what is the big deal? The big deal is that they are missing out on something huge. They are missing out on the beauty of a sun set ocean, the majesty of each individual wave, the power of an incoming storm front seen from miles away, the rich sustenance of an unending resource teeming with fish.... enough for one villager, enough for thousands of villages.

We can live in a singular, unitarian, God life. But what are we missing? The enrichment of the trinity, the wonder of our vast, complex, intricate, powerful triune God who still, in all his power and might, has more than enough for us individually.

The idea of a triune God is a crazy concept, but it is an integral part of a rich, vibrant and growing life of worship. In the Trinity, we have a God that is in us (Spirit), with us (Jesus) and around us (Father).

The fullness of God as Prophet, Priest and King.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We complain that God does not make himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for him, but what bout the twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer, "I am busy. I am sorry." Or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our mind, of our conscience, of our life. So there is a situation in which we have no right to complain of the absence of God, because we are a great deal more absent than he ever is.

-Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Multiple Services

In reading this article Church within a Church by Greg Warner (Click the link to read the whole article) several things struck me....so I am just going to comment on a few in red so you know where the quote ends:
  • "But multiple worship services don’t work for every church. What makes the difference?
    The one essential ingredient, according to pastors and consultants alike, is an outward focus. Churches that are committed to those outside their fellowship can muster the resources and tolerate the changes required to make multiple worship work." I find this interesting...as a church I think we need to be caring outward for sure....but I do run into problems with churches that are just about bringing in outside people. Often times it feels they just want to increase numbers. Going to church for me is a time to look upwards not outwards.
  • “I don’t believe the primary purpose of worship is community with each other but to commune with God,” says Arn." I have to agree somewhat with this statement, however I do feel the importance of corporate worship is not being stressed in his statement. There's just something about coming together with a group of people knowing you are all worshiping the One and Only.

  • “It sounds a little like saying … ‘We don’t want to change, but we don’t want to die,’” notes Dieter Zander. “But it is usually out of pain that a church changes. People don’t change when things are going well.”So true and so sad
After reading this article my heart was a little saddened. It somewhat made the situation sound hopeless. Is there a solution? For some it's going to a blended service and trying to give everyone a little of everything....sadly I think this ends up leaving a lot of people dissatisfied. Personally I enjoy having multiple generations in a worship service. I feel there is lots to learn from each person and it tends to be an encouragement to see all different age groups worshiping together. I think we could work towards are solution if we worked toward improving our services altogether. Making services more authentic, full of participation and deeper is something that people from all generations desire. Making a service that puts our thoughts, spirits, and hearts on the right track of having a deep, real connection with God is something all generations can relate to. Maybe we should stop trying to pick the right style of songs or the right sermon topic and focus on helping our congregations dig deeper, become more transparent and connect more than just standing and clapping every time we sing a song.