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Re: Contemporary worship obsolete?

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  • clairemilne2002
    ... direction he ... are ... I came across this reference browsing your list and would like to to express my appreciation as this sheds light on a an
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 24, 2003
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      --- In bapworship@yahoogroups.com, "Ron Freyer Nicholas" <ron@f...>
      > Nathan,
      > Bob Webber's comments you included in your note reflect the
      direction he
      > takes in his book ANCIENT FUTURE FAITH. It's also what the GenX'ers
      > saying themselves....

      I came across this reference browsing your list and would like to to
      express my appreciation as this sheds light on a an experience I have
      been unable to explain to myself - the profound sense of rightness
      and closeness to God which comes when I worship in the tradition
      where I first encountered God.

      I have no ministry involvement or divinity qualifications beyond
      being well-read, but I hope my comments to this forum might be useful
      on two counts - I am a "Gen X" and the comments of this forum lead me
      to believe many of you are not. And having moved around a lot, I have
      belonged to worshipping communities of the Anglican, catholic,
      presbyterian, Orthodox, and Baptist traditions, as well as regular
      attendants at temples, ashrams and mosques. This took place in
      England, Scotland, Greece, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Peru, the
      USA and Australia, with long periods in England, Scotland, Greece,
      USA and now Australia.

      The common factor expressed to me by all my fellow worshippers of 20-
      35 of every tradition was that we worship to satisfy a spiritual
      hunger, and this hunger is present in our lives whether they worship
      or not, but it is the impulse which us to worship.

      What happens in the church determines whether or not that hunger is

      It seems that all of us are looking for some combination of the

      1. Applicable instruction. - I would summarise this as good
      insightful relevant sermons. I personally have found explanations of
      Christian practice in the light of the cultural background and
      principles of the early church especially useful. -Eg - taken out of
      context, St Paul's letters can be made to sound narrow-minded, rather
      than enlightened in a modern context.

      2. Tradition - the rituals of any tradition - including worship
      styles which try not to uphold Tradition with a capital T - represent
      the regularity of God in daily life. If God is eternal and unchanging
      in a changing world, then so should the church be, as a reflection of
      this vital aspect of God. Everyone I met wanted to go to church and
      find it as they left it, at least in part. It meant they could take
      their children fully confident of the tradition they were offering
      them. It meant, especially in central and Eastern Europe and South
      America, that the tradition of the church was interwoven with that of
      the family, and that of the community.

      3. Spiritual passion and inspiration. This is what the "contemporary
      worship" style set out to address isn't it? And in part it works
      because it brings the qualities that move us in the world outside
      into the church. But I have found personally and in discussion, that
      faith itself is the miracle that moves and draws us. For Gen Xers
      information is cheap. If you have a "Western" upbringing and
      surroundings, you can probably read anything you want and study any
      subject that interests you, and so we become experts at categorising.
      But we grow up in a culture where everything is "cool" in other
      words, it is not appropriate to be passionate about anything. You
      should note and categorise and move on. Real passion, -the passion of
      faith expressed in stumbling words and faith evoked in actions- stops
      us cold precisely because it is strong enough to move people to
      action or expressions of faith on a basis which they cannot
      categorically prove to anyone else. Of the hundreds of people I have
      talked to, all talked about the inspiration of one or two people in
      their lives who expressed their faith by demonstrating it, or
      allowing others to witness how they were moved by it in their hearts.

      4. Community. I guess this is obvious. A church with a warm,
      welcoming and open hearted ministry team is a space people want to be
      in. If the laws of God as practiced by the church are found
      restrictive to its congregation, they will still come anyway, because
      holding up standards is a function of the church. But holding them up
      warmly and lovingly, with God, not the ministry team as arbiter and
      authority, makes a crucial difference to the congregation.
      "This is how it is my son, said a priest to a gay Polish friend of
      mine- this is the law of God as it was taught to me, and I haven't
      found it false, and now I teach it to you, but if it is hurtful to
      you then God is with you in your hurt, and I am with you as his
      hands. I know that God loves you always no matter what, and asks you
      to love him, and does not seek to put barriers between you. Let us
      pray together and ask God to help you find your way to him..."
      This friend eventually left the catholic church, unconvinced that
      the homosexuality of his biochemistry was incompatible with
      worshipping God. But he didn't leave Christianity or God. He found
      another way to worship.

      Perhaps this information is just a repeat of what this group knows
      already. But I thought to offer it, since many of you seem involved
      in research on this subject. I will read with interest the book that
      Ron quoted from.

      Kind Regards

      Claire Milne
      Currently a 31 year old Quaker Anglican based in Melbourne, Australia
    • Garry Deverell
      Hi Bapworshippers I read Claire s post with interest. I m another Gen-Xer, and I resonate with much that you said, Claire. I, too, look for worship in which
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 3, 2003
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        Hi Bapworshippers

        I read Claire's post with interest. I'm another Gen-Xer, and I resonate
        with much that you said, Claire. I, too, look for worship in which I can
        express a passionate, heart-felt faith. But even more than that, I look for
        worship in which I can be interrupted in my solitary reverie, and be
        genuinely addressed and called by God as the "other". For me, that means
        that most of the "contemporary worship" movement has to be excluded, because
        I find it difficult to hear and see God beyond all that personality-driven
        entertainment that seems to so characterise that genre.

        I prefer so-called "traditional" worship in the Western tradition because:
        (1) the texts are not dominated by personal vision or personality: they have
        been developed slowly, over time, and therefore seem to reflect the wisdom
        of many; and they continue to develop in our own communities (2) the texts
        are immersed in an analogical reading of the bible within the forms of life
        represented by "western" culture, and are therefore capable of providing
        relevant, timely, preaching in and of themselves; (3) the relationship with
        texts is not the whole story! Traditional liturgy engages all five senses
        with sound, motion, colour, smell and human contact; (4) Traditional liturgy
        tells the whole story of the gospel in a profound and coherent narrative
        that flows through daily prayers, Sunday eucharist, and seasonal cycles. It
        is therefore both a transformation and hallowing of temporal and historical

        Of course, traditional liturgy can be done very badly, and often is. But it
        has the potential to engage the whole person as an actor and agent in the
        whole story of God and God's community.

        I look forward to seeing you at worship this Sunday, Claire.

        Garry Deverell
        Centre for Studies in Religion & Theology
        Monash University
        Clayton, Victoria 3800
        + 61 3 9905 1286
        "This is the lesson of both psychoanalysis and the Judea-Christian
        tradition: the specific human vocation does not rely on the development of
        man's inherent potentials (on the awakening of the dormant spiritual forces
        OR of some genetic program); it is triggered by an external traumatic
        encounter, by the encounter of the Other's desire in its impenetrability."
        (Slavoj Zikek)
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