Having Fun in Church … and More

On the blog onehandclapping, author Julie Clawson’s post on having fun in church is a lot of fun, especially imagining what it would be like to do what her church did recently in having an all out bouncy-ball fight at the end of a service.

Coloured Bouncy Balls in Church? Um..Now I’m not recommending this. It may be quite out of character for some congregations. But it does seem fun, and a great community-building, barrier-breaking-down activity.

After mentioning this episode, Julie continues:

Now I am one of the first to argue that the point of church shouldn’t be to attract and entertain the masses. Coming to church to hear what we want to hear and sing our favorite songs has very little to do with following Jesus. But neither does checking our personalities at the door and assuming a generic “churchgoer” persona every time we gather at church. For some churches that involves pretending that monotone recitation and droning songs are actually soul-inspiring and their preferred way to express their spirituality. For others it’s dressing up in the church costume (never been in fashion anywhere anytime dowdy skirts, ugly floral shirts, dark hose, and unstylish yet still uncomfortable shoes), clutching that oversized study-Bible, taking sermon notes you will never read again, and mindlessly singing lyrics you don’t really believe while hoping no one finds out that you really enjoy Lady Gaga and had a couple of beers with friends the night before. People feel like they must play a part in order to even be at church – acting out a lie in order to fit in. Is this the point of church?

Do I hear an ‘Amen’?

Read the entire post here.

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When I Don’t Get It

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

We often mix up Jesus’ directions and become as clueless as doves and as innocent as snakes. Remember the Church Lady in Saturday Night Live? She was always well meaning, but wholly ineffective, getting all worked up about some non-issue and in a dither about those who didn’t agree. This is funny. But we have the most to fear from those who don’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes that’s us.

We can confuse good intentions with the way we come across. We can judge someone forgetting there is always at least one thing we don’t know. We can react naively to criticism as though it’s always a personal putdown.

The wisdom Jesus counsels can save us from trouble we bring on ourselves. We are most like sheep in the midst of wolves, as he put it, when we’re stuck on ourselves, acting as though everything is about us. We need the wiliness of a snake to catch ourselves in this self-deception.

The innocence of which Jesus speaks is not ignorance but wisdom. And so with trouble not of our own making that is nonetheless about us—about something we’ve said or done. Wisdom says that if Jesus was not spared rejection, who are we to think that we will be? And when we have done something wrong, will we be wise enough to admit it?

Prayer: When I feel like a failure, God, keep me from self-defense. Inspire the wisdom that gives me the confidence to look more carefully at myself, and others. Amen.

About the Author: William C. Green is a United Church of Christ minister, is the Director of Long Looking, a consultancy service specialising in fundraising and education for congregations. His new book, 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving, has just been published.

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The Liturgy After the Liturgy

Mark Berry, missional leader and pioneer of Safespace Telford (UK) in his blog Way Out West includes an array of interesting information from a liturgical perspective including many prayers for special days and events. He has a gift of creative writing. Here’s one selection about what he calls ‘The Liturgy after the Liturgy’ (i.e. being sent out in mission as a church).

Liturgy (The Eucharist) is always the entrance into the presence of the triune God and always ends with the community being sent forth in God’s name to transform the world in God’s image… Mission is concieved, in other words, as the “the liturgy after the liturgy,” the natural consequence of entering into the divine presence in worship. – Bevans and Schoeder “Constants in Context”

The liturgy after the liturgy.
There is no breathing out without breathing in,
There is no flow without ebb,
There is no outpouring without drinking deep of life.

We cannot be love for the community without being drawn deeper ourselves into God,

We cannot bring change to the world without our lives being realigned,
We cannot forgive each other without knowing the freedom of forgiveness ourselves.

We ache for the loneliness of the world and are known by a God who is family,
We cry for a world trapped in greed and are loved by a God who gave up everything,
We fight against a world with little justice and are embraced by a God of mercy.

Forgive us Lord for not taking the time to know you more,
Forgive us Lord for not taking the time to know each other more,
Forgive us Lord for not taking the time to know your world more.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
O Lord, hear my voice.  Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are worshiped.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

You welcome us back with simple open arms, forgiven, restored ready to begin work again
You stand naked, mocked and bleeding with the love of a proud parent on your face,
You move in and amongst us with un-ignorable force, yet tenderly,

This moment is a not the end of the road, it is the beginning of a new stage of the journey,

A party is being prepared to send us back into the world in joy, let’s eat and drink!

Sharing the Bread and the Wine

For God so loved the world – may we naturally follow suit,
That he gave his only son – may we learn the wonder of sacrifice,
That all who believe – may our love for one another be the crucial evidence,
May not perish – may we work to halt the collapse of lives, of communities and of creation,
But have eternal life – may we point to the hope you bring now and for the future.

It is time to walk on, this time we walk together, with each other and with God.
We are one body because we share in one bread and drink from one cup.

Amen.

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