Tuesday, May 20, 2014
This week I am deviating from the lectionary for my sermon. Yes, I am using Ezekiel 37 for my scripture. This is the story of the valley of dry bones.
Ezekiel was a prophet in exile. He was part of the nation of Israel that had been taken to Babylon while the rest of his native country was destroyed. The vision that God gives him is a valley of dried and withered bones waiting for the prophet to breath life into them. Once breathed upon, they would rise and become flesh, and the people will be restored.
This is a follow up to my Zombie Church sermon before Easter. This is kind of the zombiest, (is that a real word?- my spellcheck says no,) story of the whole Bible. Looking deeper at this, God is restoring the bones to LIFE, not making them un-dead. So, they are really not zombies are they.
God can restore zombie churches, but only if we have vision. I have seen my share of un-dead churches in my life. Congregations that are nothing more than dry bones in a valley, or a sanctuary. God told Ezekiel to breath life into the bones of the valley and I think He tells us to do the same.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
It really hurts when I have to admit that I have traditional traits. Honestly, I really want to be a radical guy in a contemporary world. Things just seem to get in my way however, and sometimes these things worry me.
Take worship music. Nothing says traditional worship more than a hymnal. I grew up in the United Methodist Church, so therefore I grew up using the United Methodist Hymnal as the main focus in worship. The hymnal had lots of things we used in worship; liturgy for baptism and communion, psalters and creeds, and hymns- lots of hymns. Most of the hymns were, maybe 150 years old, and they were meant to be sung by people who sang them as contemporary worship. They were old songs sung by old people. They were sung with organ accompaniment and it sounded like a bunch of cows mooing for their calves.
I want to be radical, I want to throw off the shackles of the traditional worship. I want to dress comfortably and sing songs accompanied by a band with guitars and drums. I do like contemporary worship, but really the songs lack. I see the same hymns that I grew to hate are far superior to most contemporary works. The big Christian seasons really bring this out. Advent and Easter are almost ignored by contemporary music. We all love to sing the old carols during advent, and Easter may be even more dramatic.
Let's look at Easter songs traditionally sung on Easter morning:
Up From the Grave He Arose (322 in the Hymnal)
Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o're His foes
He arose a victor from the dark domain
and he lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose-He arose
Halleluiah Christ arose.
This pretty much sums it up!
How about Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (302 in the Hymnal)
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens and earth reply, Alleluia!
It may help if we do them in a different way. Try reciting those songs in rap style. It may change your world!
The theology, the passion, and the guidance found in hymnals can no longer be ignored. Aside from your Bible, a hymnal can be your best tool in worship. Ouch! I said it. But they are not perfect. my next rant will be to fix the hymnal. Now, before it's too late.