Monday, October 15, 2012

The Church, the Eucharist, and living the Scriptures

"The Church is the Eucharist, and the Eucharist is the Church"  Fr. Steven Freeman of Glory to God for All Things.

Fr. Freeman is writing a wonderful series on Christianity and Post-modernism. The following quote relates to how we can only understand the Scriptures within the life and particularly in the worship of the Church.  Much to think about here.

The Church should not be seen as an institution, a business or a club, or an organization existing through the centuries, managing history. Some “Churches” in the West may very well fit this description, but they are not “Church” in the proper sense of the word. The Church is the Eucharist and the Eucharist is the Church. The people, members of the Body of Christ, are those assembled in the liturgy (and in its continual life beyond the immediate assembly itself). That the Church reads is patently part of its liturgical life. What is considered canon, authoritative, is that which is read in the liturgy. The Church not only reads the Scriptures, it prays and enacts the Scriptures. It sings the Scriptures and interprets them in the embodied life of praise and thanksgiving to God. “Bible study,” and such notions, outside of the worshipping Church are akin to nonsense. There can be no study of the Scripture for the sake of the Scripture (or simply for the sake of learning). This would be similar to discussing (ad nauseum) the lyrics of a song whose music you never hear and whose tune you never sing.
The Scripture is the song of God, both sung to the Church by God and sung to God by the Church. In the life that is that song, the Church is continually conformed to the image of Christ. This is the Church’s liturgy (and God’s liturgy), the song of the image of God.
The life that is the continual liturgy is the Christ-conforming life of the believer in union with others within the Body of Christ sharing in the one Spirit. The Scriptures are not a source or reference-book for that Christ-conforming life, they are part of that life itself.  SEE HERE

LORD have mercy,  Brian+

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Contemplation and Liturgy

In his recent address to the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, our Archbishop Rowan Williams said,

"Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them.  To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit.  To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly.  It is a deeply revolutionary matter."

This echos much of what I have posted in recent weeks.  Contemplative worship, which has the characteristic of predictable words and actions, forces the worshiper into the work of alert reflection and focused listening.  The constant renewal of liturgy, to capture the imagination of the dulled worshiper plays into the self-oriented passions that are the vanguard of consumer-marketing models.  The contemplative worship that Williams is speaking of is counter-intuitive to much of what has passed as lively worship, or relevant worship. We need to help people understand the dulling nature of the contemporary world, which on the surface appears to be exciting and energizing, but actually robs us of the very things that helps make disciples out of worshipers.  And we need to help people understand and encounter what Rowan Williams is saying, which in my opinion is that contemplative worship, that which appears to contemporaries as as dull and uninspiring on the surface, is actually life giving, life enhancing, and life energizing, because it enables the human heart to connect with the heart of God.

Lord have mercy,  Brian+

A recent post by Brian Owen at his blog Creedal Christianity speaks to this need for contemplative worship through the words of C.S. Lewis:

see  C. S. Lewis: "An Entreaty for Permanence and Uniformity" in Worship  HERE

 Lord have mercy,  Brian+

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Church is called to live love, not sell it.

"It is not a case of build it and they will come: it is a case of live it and they will come. We are one with the One; it is He who calls each and every man woman and child to His Son, it is the Spirit who mystically tugs at the inner place of all and the all can respond or not.

Let the Church live the life of the body, let it worship, let it come to the altar and partake of the Sacraments, that mystical union with the One beyond our knowing, beyond our knowledge. Let the Church set aside its debate and arguments over things that add nothing but divide and destroy the soul and despair the Spirit.

Forget the marketing, forget the mail drops, forget the 'relevancy' and instead of going out and contending with the Spirit for souls become a place where people can come in and know they have found home. Find rest. Find Love manifest by the love of others.

A Sunday morning (if it is a Sunday morning that is prescribed) should be a place of soaking of refueling of being reborn time and time again, of union not division, of embracing those who attend not counting those who are not, of trusting in God to bring about his will not wondering what must be done to fill the pews or the coffers because God has failed to do so (in our eyes).

The Church is called to live love, not sell it."  
George Dunning

This comment was inspired by a post at Creedal Christian's Bryan Owen  
called, "The Church is only the Church insofar as it offers the Sacraments with meek heart and due reverence" 

In particular Mr Owan was commenting on a post from  Fr. Robert Hendrickson titled, "The Church which is His Body: On Restructuring, the Episcopate, and the Sacraments"

Fr. Robert makes a very, very important comment:

“….she said, “well you are a sacramental priest – so that makes sense for you. We need to be thinking of other ways to be priests too.” I could not disagree more.
The Church is only the Church insofar as it offers the Sacraments with meek heart and due reverence. It seems to me that in the conversations about restructuring the Church, or a missional Church, or the many other ways we can imagine the Church changing that we are losing the simple fact that we first and foremost offer the Sacraments. If one visits the Episcopal Church’s website and clicks on “What We Do” you will not find the Sacraments. They are certainly listed under “What we Believe” but they are not just what we believe – they are what we do, who we are, how we are meant to be, and what we are called to be more of.
We are initiated in baptism, fed in the Eucharist, express our devotion in confirmation, find forgiveness in confession, seek healing in anointing, embrace love in marriage, and some seek new forms of service in ordination. The sacraments walk us through the life cycle, drawing us to God and back to God and home to God. They are the foundation of ministry and unify the faithful in grace. The administration of the Sacraments cannot be unwoven from our pastoral function, nor from our teaching function, nor from social justice for it is through them that we are healed, united, and learn of God’s mercies.”

This couples well with an article I read about how modern approaches to worship are failing.     See my post called, DE-NEWING WORSHIP

Do we not have to be true to who we are as the Church?  If it is the Eucharist that defines us, forms us, renews us, and sends us, then shouldn't we be embracing the Eucharistic worship for all we are worth? 

LORD have mercy,  Brian+