Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hospitality

I couldn't help but be hugely pleased at church this morning.

1. The conductor (we like to say 'leader' I'd prefer 'reader' from my Anglican roots, or 'precentor' to give a liturgical flavour), our senior pastor gave such a wonderful welcome to service that I wish I'd taken notes.

The drift of it was that the events that impinge upon us, or influence us are separate to the who that we are, in God's image, redeemed and filled with his Spirit. Great!

2. The other pastor who gave the sermon, urged us to invite someone to a meal each month for the rest of the year. Nothing fancy, either at home or cafe, either share or go Dutch...for being together, being friends and sharing time. How friends are. Not to impress, but to be.

He also referred to the contact we make with visitors and how important to be friends to them; particularly people who are here briefly from  abroad.

I recalled when I'd visited churches abroad and reflected on the degree of welcome.

Spencer St Church of Christ, Melboune: invited to afternoon soccer after service, member struck up friendship, we had coffee in my hotel room and talked about faith, Schaeffer and creativity.

Garden Grove Community Church: big service, offical greeter/usher. No contact post service.

Disciples of Christ, New York: met pastor in study, attended evening Bible study with other young adults. No contact post this.

Cambridge Baptist Church: invited to home group, accepted as part of it, friendly conversations, but no contact after.

All Souls Langham Pl London: attended a number of services, part of small group, didn't feel included. No contact after.

University Presbyterian Church, Chicago: somewhat friendly minister, more interested in his 'litugical dance' than visitors. No contact after.

Cootamundra Baptist Church: fully accepted, but not social contact, except with minister (Barnes?).

Cootamundra Anglican Church: hardly noticed, but got on well with young woman who also worked in the same office as me.

Group I joined travelling across the Mediterranian, South African woman, US bloke, Austrian woman (they were the Christians, there were other fellows from Canada, Switzerland and US): got on fine.

Score

1. Melbourne Spencer St Church of Christ

2. Cambridge Baptist Church

3. Cootamundra Baptist Church.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The music: not performance, but godly

It is easy to confuse good music well done with mere performance; but as we are called to do things well, and this would apply to our music, we must consider that too.

I recently attended with a friend a small ethnic church about 40 minutes drive from my place.

I couldn't understand the language, and wondered what it would be like.

At service start time I became aware of a musical hum. Not acoustic feedback, but on purpose. It grew louder, and varied subtly.

I then noticed the keyboard artist at the synthesiser. I noticed another set of keyboards near him.

The musicians started moving onto the stage: calmly and unassumingly. I knew this was not 'performance' but something done well and in good order.

We ended up with four guitarists, one drummer, two keyboards, four singers. The 'lead' singer (the cantor?) changed, so there was no celebrity occuring. It was Christians joining together in doing a Colossians 3:16. Beautiful. Full of earnestness, but no over-emotive 'swoon' music.

Oddly, I had a similar experience at Christ Church St Lawrence at Easter  many years ago when Austin Day was serving as rector and the choir of King's College at Cambridge was serving as choir.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Worship?

Sermon this morning was on worship...well, no it wasn't, it was on singing, and it even got that wrong, failing to deal with:

Ephesians 5:19
19 speaking to [a]one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

and

Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Thus, our entire life lived god-ward is worship, and we sing to each other. Due to Ro 12:1 this too is worship, but it is done, not in soppy emotive songs 'to God', but to each other, both as made in the image of God, and as building each other up in love.

To reduce worship, which in Christ has a vast compass, to singing betrays the gospel.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Five Important People

In this morning's sermon, the speaker related a view from an author, who's name escapes me, that we are 'the average of the five people closest to us'.

Interesting. I tried to quickly think...

In the benediction prayer, the minister ended by 'the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father, Son nad Holy Spirit, three of our five closest, be with us now and evermore.'

Monday, August 14, 2017

2,500,000 conversations for $3.50

Our church has an outreach committee. It is really an 'in-drag' committee, because I don't see much outreach happening: that is, going OUT to REACH people.

Doesn't happen.

The committee at last count has 3 members.

I've been at this church for 7 or 8 years. Let's say 7.

If every committee member spent one hour in conversation each working day with one person outside the church (like chatting in coffee shops, or dare I say it, pubs), in that 7 year period they would have 'reached out' in 5250 conversations.

That's a big number more than their efforts have achieved!

But what if every paid Christian in Sydney did that, and had been for the past 10 years?

1000 paid Christians, 10 years, 250 conversations a year: 2,500,000 conversations for the price of a cup of coffee.

Darn lot of conversations!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Batman

What you see when without camera!

A church in Ashfield was advertising its latest evangelical bright idea. A Batman movie!

I kid you not.

I was told that one of the church members was handing out promotional cards for the film at the local school.

So this is how we represent almost 2000 years of Christian tradition, and the most life-building news ever: come to a Batman movie!

Meanwhile people are born free, and everywhere in chains.

I wonder how many turned up....I wonder what they made of it. In Mcluhan terms.