Posts Tagged ‘Church’

The language of church

Sunday 20 April 2008

Our church at the moment is an Anglican church, which can mean a variety of things, but in our case means it’s quite traditional. In an average morning service, there are probably 5 words that I can only guess their meaning from the context, and dozens of others that I wouldn’t hear during the rest of the week.

And the idea of using different vocabulary in church to the rest of life isn’t confined to traditional churches. We were listening to a sermon online today from a church that is very alive and fruitful in many ways, but some of the words used probably hadn’t been used in regular English conversations for well over 100 years.

Why do we do this? Why do we use special old words when we’re talking to God that we would never use if we were talking to our next door neighbour? I’m not sure, but here’s some possible ideas:

  1. We think that God understands old words better. God is old. He’s been around for thousands of years – maybe he’s like our great-grandparents and longs for the good old days. Maybe if we use old words we’ll get his attention and he’ll really understand us.
  2. We’re used to using a Bible with old words. Since God speaks to us in old English, it’s only fair to reply in the same language.
  3. We want to impress other people. If God speaks old words and we do too, maybe people will be impressed that we’re close to God and know his “lingo”…
  4. We’re scared to use the same language in church as we do in the rest of our lives. If we do, that will mean that the rest of our lives are actually connected to what we do in church and we’ll have to give our whole lives to God, not just Sunday mornings.

Are there other (more genuine) answers I’ve missed? I’d love to know, because there are people who are much more godly than me, who I really respect as Christians, who use old English words. Am I missing out on something because I only use simple words…?

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mustard seed: the dilemma of growth

Friday 21 March 2008

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Photo by mrjoro

This? This…is the glorious mustard seed? Not the magnificent and beautiful tree one imagines. Its a weed…!

Thanks to our Pastor at Calvary Petaluma, this isn’t as shocking to me as it could have been. The parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13 is a little more rough around the edges than I’d ever given it credit for before.

He gave them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32, the NET Bible.

Perhaps Jesus didn’t mean for the parable to only refer to the beautiful growth of the Kingdom of Heaven – which is still a facet of this image – but hoped to warn against false growth, as well. Isn’t it true that growth can allow things to go unnoticed and hidden from obvious view? In the two parables, the yeast and the mustard seed, something considered unwanted from the lens of the biblical culture – yeast (evil) and birds (enemy) – come to hide or lodge in the surroundings.

If this is true, what are the implications on the Kingdom of Heaven as we see it? What is true growth in the Kingdom of Heaven? What are the implications of physical growth in the church on this Earth?

Palm Sunday!

Sunday 16 March 2008

Yeah – today is Palm Sunday and it was my first encounter with the Anglican traditions linked with the occasion as somehow we missed it last year…!

At our church, St. Peter and St. Paul’s in Stokenchurch, we had a special reading that incorporated a lot of the congregation. The week before we were asked to sign up for parts in a dramatic reading of the Passion account in Luke. Being as adventurous as we are…we chose the smallest portions in the reading: the two thieves on either side of Jesus at the crucifixion. I was the unbelieving thief and Mark was the believing (mine was a smaller part…). It made the reading very alive and allowed many people to participate in and feel a part of the service.

Our Crosses

Another delightful highlight were the small palm crosses that were distributed to the congregation during the second hymn. I could tell by the way Mark reacted amusedly to my surprise that this was another tradition carried out by the Anglican church. It was quite a novelty holding a cross constructed from a palm leaf on this day.