Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Worship Music and Immaturity

Musical Reformation and Emotional Maturity

Imagine a man dying of kidney failure.  Tests confirm that his cousin is a potential match.  So at the last minute, his cousin undergoes the risky procedure to donate a kidney with the hope that it will save the man's life.  It does.  And ever since, every Sunday, the two of them meet for an afternoon meal, the joy of each other's company, and to share in the experience of their "second/new" life together.

It has been many years since the surgery - several decades, in fact - and one Sunday, the cousin invites you to join them for their meal and time together.  Much to your surprise, as you pull into the driveway with the cousin-donor you see the formerly-healed man fling open the door with an ecstatic look on his face and his arms upraised in celebration.  He flies out of his house with leaps and bounds shouting at the top of his lungs and dancing in jubilation toward you.  Before your companion can fully open his car door, the man has boisterously pulled him from the vehicle in an explosive bear-hug.  He then looks at you wide-eyed and in a yelling voice recounts the basics of the story that you know already - "This is the man that saved my life by his sacrifice! He gave me his kidney!"  His shouts appear to startle the neighbors and a man down the street walking his dog.

Now remember - the surgery was over a decade ago.  And they have met every Sunday since.  So here is the question: wouldn’t you think this man's behavior odd, contrived or rehearsed, or even, in some way, inappropriate?  Yes, you would.  Why?  Because gratitude, as it deepens over time, takes a shape and expression that differs from momentary exhilaration like an old-vine Zinfandel differs from cherry Kool-aid.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Real Churches & Fake Ones

"The fact that some churches become dysfunctional should be grieved but is not a surprise to those who truly live in community.  True community is always messy, for it seeks life in the friendship of embodied living persons.  A church with no discord, a church that has climbed to the mount beyond the possibility of dysfunction, is no longer a community but an ideal facade where the preaching becomes only principles and worship just Muzak.  
There is no way to avoid discord, and the Christian leader that wants community without discord wants not true community but to drug himself with a needle of the ideal to the vein.  The leader who wants the ideal of community does not want community at all, for the ideal is community without the humanity of physical bodies in relationship.  The leader who wants the ideal community has turned community into an idol."  

- Andrew RootBonhoeffer As Youth Worker

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Devotional Prayer

Good Friday Prayer

Oh Christ, You are the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. 
You were sent from Heaven through a virgin womb to be our manna in a barren desert.
You, Who were anointed with burial oil at Your birth and again at Holy Week when You walked through Jerusalem smelling of a spiced tomb. 
By the sweat of Your brow you labored to feed Your bride the bread of Your own flesh, great drops as of blood falling to the ground, crying out to God, not for vengeance, but mercy - Father, forgive them.
At the sound of Your coming judgment You did not hide, but welcomed those who sought You with torches and weapons.  You were driven out of the garden by their fiery swords. And on that day, You surely died for us.  
You became shamefully naked and were found in the middle of the trees.  
But by Your death, we were clothed from on high.
Now men may once again walk with their Lord in Paradise, as You promised the thief at Your side.
You took our place on the altar, as the ram whose horns were caught in the briars.  You took our curse upon Your head with a crown of thistles and thorns of iron pierced Your hands and feet. 
On the wooden cross, that sharp iron was redeemed as if to float in the flowing streams and we who were lost and sinking deep were drawn out and returned to You.
By Your cross our bitter waters have been made sweet.
You were suspended in midair, between Heaven and Earth, our bridge; the Mediator between God and men.
Blood and water flowed from the rock of Your split side and from the cursed labor pain of Your belly, the Church was born of water and blood; Your Bride from Your rib.
Our first father Adam failed to look after the woman You gave him, but You remembered Mary and made provision for her even as You died on that tree, where the centurion's eyes were opened to understand good and evil.
You were lifted up like Moses’ brass serpent, so that he and every fatal sinner might look to You and be healed.  And it is by Your blood in the sign of the cross on our door frames, that our judgment passes over us. 
Like Moses between Aaron and Hur on the hilltop and like Samson between the pillars, You stretched Your arms wide to sacrifice Yourself and deliver God's people, gaining us the victory.
At Golgotha, You tread upon the skull of death and under Your pierced heel the head of the serpent was crushed.
Precious Jesus, You have made the Cross to be our Tree of Life, blooming with the fruit of Your own body, which by glad faith, we take, eat, and live.
You have made every day Good Friday, for  every day we live in the blessed joy of Your bitter Passion and death, the remedy of our sin. 
So we join our hearts and voices in the angel song:
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise, now and forevermore.