Okay, why not?

I am encouraged and frustrated and disappointed and perplexed by what I see happening within the growing and emerging expression of the Christian faith in the U.S., particularly within the Emergent Church conversation and beyond and the lost opportunities by The Episcopal Church – the Anglican expression in the U.S.
The post-American-Evangelical and post-Liberal-Mainline experience is beyond the politicized Religious-Right, beyond Borg, Spong, and liberation-theology, beyond the “Seeker-Church” movement, beyond the Baby-Boomer necessity to cast down all that came before them, beyond the 1960’s generational demand of feminism, political-correctness, queerism, identity-politics, yadda, yadda, yadda. It is more than simply reaction to the generation before them. It is a restoration. Thank God, thank God, thank God Almighty!
Finally, the newer generational distinctives are coming back around to re-discovering the baby that was thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.
Yet, why are we who have had these things of liturgy, beauty in worship, sacramental theology, monasticism, the Daily Offices of the fixed-hour prayer missing it? So much energy of this new expression of the Faith takes up the task of re-inventing what has been (is?) the best of us – why must we re-invent the wheel to make the journey?
Why? Because we have forgotten our heritage! Why? Because too many of us have lost the relational aspect of God and the transformational aim of the Gospel! Why? Because we have been deluded by the psychotheraputic cult of self-esteem! There are so many other reasons.
We have in many places repudiated our ancient and marvelous traditions. I am so encouraged that younger people are re-discovering all of this, but the very Church that has exhibited and lived into all this stuff is in the process of repudiating it all in the name of innovation and God only knows why else. Is innovation or change wrong? Absolutely not, but if it is done to force an agenda upon people and the Church, then it is wrong, particularly if the change being perpetuated is not that which speaks to the needs of the future of the Church! Oh, and the prophetic work of the Holy Spirit is not those actions or intentions coming forth from us that conveniently support our agendas.
My rant is over. I hope to be more coherent and complete in the future.

iPod Shuffle – 10:30 am

What appeared on my iPod this morning?
1. Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You
2. Sufjan Stevens – Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head… from ‘Greetings from Michigan…”
3. Evan Dando – Rain
4. Rochmaninov – Grant Us This O Lord from ‘Sacred Treasures III’
5. Kat Williams – Stand By Me from ‘Compilation’
6. U2 – Gloria from ‘October’
7. Skott Freedman – Its Been a While from ‘Swimming After Dark’
8. Rochmoninov – Peaceful Light (Kiev Chant) from ‘Sacred Treasures III’
9. The GTS Scola & David Hurd – A Heart that Centers, Lord on Your…
10. Slavyandka Mens Chorus – Otche nash (Our Father) from ‘Russian Church Music’
This idea comes from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things:

I’m happy that this seems to be fairly popular. The rules, for bloggers who want to play:
Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel! Maybe link the songs to online music stores for readers’ convenience.

In beauty and reverence

The organist and choirmaster of St. Paul’s commented the other day about how so few churches these days give consideration to the aesthetic – beauty and solemnity in the worship service, the mass. The comment and conversation prior to the comment dealt with the rumor that the next U.S. Book of Common Prayer might leave out all Rite I liturgies, gone would be their theological significance and particularly the older and more Elizabethan-style language.
This, frankly, would be a tragic mistake sense younger generations, generally, are attracted to and prefer the older, Elizabethan-style language (thee’s and thou’s, etc). I’ve experience this dynamic over and over again. To them, this is the language of the Church – that which is tried and true, ancient, not swayed by whim and trend. In like manner, so many young people are attracted to traditional Church architecture rather than the striped-down “seeker church” model. The tragedy would be that those in control would push through their agenda of change despite what demographic information is telling us about those who are making up the future of the Church.
It is about the esthetic present in worship. It is about creating a place and a space in time where the beautiful is presented and experienced. It is one of the primary emphases of The Oxford Movement. The beautiful can be experienced in high or low ritual, and both can be a distraction.
God is worthy of our best efforts. All that we do we shall do as if unto the Lord. The worship of God should be an experience of the beautiful in music, in vestments, in architecture, in language, in art, in manual acts, in our attention and devotion. When during the Eucharist all time is merged into one – the Church Victorious, the Church Militant, the Church Eminent – we are caught up into the experience of Heaven and present with the Great Cloud of Witness. We are in the presence of God Almighty.
How else can we respond? What else is there to do but to give up to God our best?