Sunday, April 27, 2008

Those whom I love I rebuke...

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees...

These words of Christ echo across two thousand years. This was the pivotal confrontation that sealed his fate. After this denunciation of the religious powers of Jerusalem, there is no way he will be allowed to leave town alive.

This portrayal by actor Bruce Marchiano, is truly inspired. For just as a loving parent might plead and confront a wayward child who is bent upon his own destruction, Marchiano reveals a Jesus crying out from a broken heart to the very people who claim to represent God. Yet their hearts are so far from this one True God. And in his never-ending compassion, that God rebukes them and confronts them with righteous indignation and love. Yes, love.

For this is the God who claims to be Love. Who commands "Love your enemies..." Therefore, how could He himself act out of any other motive but love? And still they once again turn their backs and walk away! How heart breaking:

So, here is Bruce Marchiano's amazing rendition of these passages:
(Unhappily this critical speech is cut over two segments, so please view the second immediately after the first. Also the sound is a little off. These excerpts are from "The Gospel According to Matthew" as produced by The Visual Bible.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Worship Wars

I haven't forgotten the item about worship and music and such.

This recent comment from Plain Truth Ministries emphasizes how divisive and hurtful an issue this has become:

Worship wars
This is a serious issue with my family. My husband no longer goes to church because of the repetitive modern music. My children go because they do not have a choice but it is effecting them. I have heard, "Why should I be made to go to church when dad doesn't go?" It doesn't help that two of my children are musicians and my husband knows music. It didn't help when my daughter offered to play with the worship team, and was told she couldn't because she reads music and they "wing" it. I think the director should come to one of the high school's jazz concerts. My daughter will be doing ad-lib.

We always arrive late to miss the worship portion of the service. I have been asked why we always come late. I was told by the elder asking that he didn't care for the music either -- but that we need to worship God. Does God want you to fake worshiping him with music that grates on you?? I will always believe it should be heartfelt. My husband likes the meat of the sermons but notes that when we arrive late and everyone seems to be in a trance, still singing the same line for minutes on end, he just does not want to return.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Animal Welfare Advocacy

As someone who holds the life and teachings of Jesus in very high regard, I'm always looking to understand my own views of life, the universe, and everything. I'm always seeking a consistent, coherent view of reality upon which to base my life (and yes, even this coherent viewpoint contains much room for mystery! I know that I'm incapable of knowing ;-)...

I don't have much to say about how other worldviews consider the role of animals in our world, but It troubles me that Christians, (and many other people apparently, judging from the statistics on abandoned and euthanized pets) view animals as a commodity - just like a toy doll or teddy bear. Something to use for our own amusement, but throw away if they become inconvenient.

Thanks to this blog sent to me by a friend, I've discovered this book - which seems to deal with the topic from a Christian perspective. I'll buy it asap and post what I find:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beyond worship towards WORSHIP...

The word worship within Christianity has been scrunched down into a very narrow definition. Another side-effect of "religion." When Christians talk about it at all, they generally mean a scripted few minutes of church ceremony that revolves around congregational singing. Which can be part of the bigger picture of worshiping God but when we limit ourselves to this concept we rob ourselves of so much more. And this "small worship" can even be an uncomfortable experience for those of us who are not singers, or demonstrative, artistic people.

Worse, this narrow viewpoint inadvertently throws oil on the the fires of never-ending worship wars. Some folks like new music; some like old music; some like loud music; some like soft music; some like lots of music; some like very little music; some like instrumental music; some like easy-to-learn music; some like deep, thought provoking music; some like unexpected turns in the melody and harmonies; others don't. On and on it goes.

(...edited this section out - based on a particular video which youtube took down)

Frankly, when my heart is moved to worship, no one! and I mean NO ONE can prevent me from worshiping, and conversely when my heart is NOT ready to worship, no one! can push me into it.

Worshiping God in spirit and in truth, day by day, action by action, choice by choice, is such a huge thing, it actually hurts me to see it shrunken and mistreated this way.

I'll try to express more of what I'm getting at in other posts. Hopefully this post and won't just tick people off and cause even more "worship war" ...

Now, here's a video I discovered, featuring a young woman obviously singing about worship as a very real and personal experience - good job!:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Play God... A Thought Experiment

If you had the power to ressurrect people to a new life in a world beyond this one - a universe that includes this one but reaches beyond, into dimensions yet to be explored, how would you decide who to resurrect and who to leave in their graves?

And then now would you govern that new world?...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tony Campolo - Inner City Ministry

This presentation lasts about 45 minutes, but it's well-worth the time. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in people-oriented ministry:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Burning Ember

Steve Bell writes songs that often include amazing analogies for God and His work in us. These help me dig deeper into the mystery of God and life. They help me deal with the conundrums presented by a world where suffering co-exists with good and joy and love and faith. And that being open to all the goodness life has to offer, brings at the same time, a fresh awareness of all the other.

Here is such a song (as first presented in symphonic version with the WSO:)

"Somehow I know, we'll all be whole, in your burning..."