Saturday, November 12, 2011

On mission - Post 2: Elizabeth Drescher

While I am working through thoughts on Mission, I thought Elizabeth Drescher's piece at Episcopal Cafe provided good food for thought, as well as the 20+ comments posted there in response.

Do we struggle with "singing a new song" in the church?  How so?  When I think of Jesus, I don't think of someone who was merely thinking about playing the "old standards"...he seemed to be pushing us beyond the same old same old.  However, we are often seeking the security of nostalgia for its own sake.  Is this what God is calling us to?  Is this what the Holy Spirit is empowering us to be?

The Church's Mission, Let's be honest
by Elizabeth Drescher posted at Episcopal Cafe

You know, I sometimes wonder whether the Israelites heard the call of the psalm we read today as I sometimes do: "Sing to the Lord a new song...? Really?"

I mean, let's be honest, even in the most literal sense, we struggle with this idea, resisting in our churches music that might nudge us even ever so slightly out of the nineteenth century. Oh, I'm not talking here about going all "U2-charist," or bringing in hip hop hymns that'll get the young folks dancing before the Lord. After all, we know that the few thriving emergent communities in our church are more likely to sing songs from the Middle Ages--a little Gregorian Chant, a remix of Hildegard of Bingen, or, to modernize just a smidge, some shape note tunes--than they are to be jamming to the spiritual stylings of Gospel Ganstaz. But they are singing those old songs in a new way--inhabiting them bodily, infusing them with a spirit that is often missing from our churches, truly "lifting every voice" in glorious praise.

Outside of these communities--the Crossing at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston, Open Cathedral at St. Mark's in Seattle, Thad's in Los Angeles, Transmission in New York--"singing a new song" has, in the least nuanced, least metaphorical way, been something of a challenge for us.

And that makes me worry about how far along God's path we may be able to travel these days as we seek to realize the peaceable kingdom Isaiah prophesied. If we can't get the theme song down, what chance do we have to be so much as bit players in the whole new cosmic drama--the heartwarming story of true love realized across the earth that, as Paul reminds us, Jesus narrated with his life, death, and resurrection?

Of course, Paul points in his letter to the Ephesians to what throws us off tune in our efforts to sing a new, harmonious song, to live as one diverse body: barriers and the hostilities they cause among us. What do these barriers look like in our church in particular? If you've just lept in your mind to things like women's ordination or diverse opinions on human sexuality, I'm going to suggest that you guess again . . . 

Read the rest HERE

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