Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Beyond Church as Lecture Hall or Rock Concert

I found an interesting discussion this morning on a blog run by Christianity Today Leadership Journal: Beyond Sermons and Songs
This is the second of the set that begins here: Beyond Sermons and Songs part 1

And another blog that I have yet to explore: http://thegreatgiveaway.blogspot.com/

Looks like some good reading and there are lots of comments.

And this: Anglican Mission in America

26 comments:

Ray said...

I found this quote interesting.

"However, if the peaching becomes simply truth propositions inductively sliced and distributed to autonomous isolated minds sitting in the pews taking notes on how to improve their lives (even their Christian lives), then to me this is not worship.

It is the distribution of information as another form of goods and services to consumers who are not changed by God's Word but only seek to use His Word to achieve their already decided wants and needs."

I have been thinking a lot along the same lines. We spend 20 minutes singing hymns, taking the offering, listening to the choir sing, then 50 minutes listening to the pastor give a sermon. During the sermon, we are listening passively. And regardless of how good the sermon may be, is it truly worship?

scribe said...

Church as lecture hall is far too prevelant in Protestant churches; but then what else do they have when there's no liturgy? One is left with either the lecture hall or the rock concert (or even classical concert).

I think there's been a HUGE misunderstanding of what liturgy is and what it does that has led the Protestant to cast it aside and re-invent Christian worship in purely individualistic modes. I noticed on commentor on the that blog said that Enoch and other very early Old Testament figures did not have a liturgy. That comment shows a very literal--at fact value--reading of the Bible without understanding the underlying culture. All ancient cultures developed liturgically as that form was the philosophical/religious mode of communication at the time. It is only as our cultures have become secularized over the centuries that the liturgical/mythical forms were dropped. It is now a real effort to think liturgically as it goes against the main culture of secularism.

I say that because we do not think liturgically many Christians today are not thinking very Christianly either. Line-by-line Bible studies that substitute for worship in churches does not make for Christians that intuitively know what is the Christian worldview--what it makes for is debate over Scripture and constant re-interpretation of it to suit us. The current battle over marriage (the marriage ceremony is a liturgy, too) as to what marriage really represents in God's scheme of things is a case in point. There ought to be NO question today in any Christian's mind about the wrongness of gay marriage or polygamy, etc. But many Christians, even some conservative ones, seem confused or have betrayed the Christian vision of marriage.

Here is a description of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy.
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/pomaz_lit.aspx

Michael Dodaro said...

I think of liturgical worship as the difference between poetry and prose. Analysis of doctrine and now even a business orientation toward church has many unintended effects. In the poetry of liturgy each individual act and all participants have unique character instead of supposed abstract identity with church proceedings. Our choir director has even said that the liturgy is ruined when it is explained. Maybe this is overstatement, but he has a point. To worship is to act out our faith in continuity with a tradition that connects us to the apostles and what they witnessed in the presence of Jesus. There is very little abstract doctrine in the Bible. The substance of our faith is in stories, prophetic utterances, and psalms that have been handed down for millennia. Trying to contain faith in doctrine or ideology is futile as is the contemporary claim that the essential elements of the faith can be extracted from their embodiment in scripture and tradition and re-imaged to suit a postmodern culture that is opposed in nearly every way to historic Christianity.

Ray said...

OK, give me a good succinct and brief description of liturgy. Break it down to its essence. What are the raw elements that compose a liturgy? For example, repetition? Rote? Is there any variation? Is it like building a widget following ISO procedures where a process is followed and no deviation is allowed?

I bet in some ways us non-liturgical types are not that much different than you liturgical types. (I don't really bet, because I'd always lose)

I have read a variety of books on worship, both from the musical standpoint and generically, and I'm really interested in what is true worship. What does it look like, sound like, smell like? Is something that lifts our spirits, that focuses our attention on God, that teaches us how to be better Christians, that is an offering to God which is pleasing in His sight?

scribe said...

Ray--

Good question.

I'll comment on it just briefly right now and try to give a fuller explanation a bit later.

Perhaps it might be good if you look at the book of Revelation--it is liturgical from beginning to end. Reading that will give you a good idea of how a liturgy works, what it's supposed to do.

For instance, the letter to the seven churches is a general call to the confession of sins. This act by the people of God must occur before the rest of the liturgy can proceed. The liturgy depicted in this book ends with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb--the communion with God. Revelation is a good book to study for Christian liturgy.

Liturgy means the common work of the people before God. You could say it is a common form of behavior before God which provides a dialogue with Him. It appears repetitious on the surface, but it is a highly symbolic pattern that teaches us the act of worship. The more one fully engages himself in it (not just go through the motions), the more it uplifts one's spirit, allowing deeper prayer, and making one more like Christ. It is an offering pleasing to God when we come to worship in faith (believing) and truth (having a clean heart through repentance).

There are many variations on liturgy--no two Divine Liturgies are exactly alike. 347 years must pass before an Orthodox liturgy is exactly repeated; not to mention the vesper, matins, compline and other liturgies.

Michael Dodaro said...

Scribe,
Great explanation of what liturgy is! I've read the Book of Revelation with great fascination since I was an awe struck teenager. Thinking about the book as a liturgical work illuminates many things about it. Its great historic sweep connects the church through the ages. In the same way, when the words of the institution of the Eucharist are spoken or sung as they have been for centuries, they inspire faith and hope grounded in the liturgical tradition going back to the apostles. Public reading the Bible has the same effect if the reader lets the text stand on its own. Abstract doctrine is useful in theological analysis, but, in church, extracting doctrinal principles from the word may nullify the drama. We always have to remember the Word became flesh. The Incarnation is not a doctrine. Feasting on a steady diet of abstractions we will starve.

Ray said...

Oh, and I thought Revelation was about the end times based on a vision the Apostle John had. :-)

When I have time, I'll respond to some of your statements with some observations from a non-liturgical person. I have to admit the closest I've ever been to a liturgical service is a Catholic wedding.

scribe said...

The Book of Revelation is about the Church in all ages, not just the "end time". With the resurrection of Christ is when the "end times" began.

Here is a study (from a Catholic source) about the liturgical construction of the Book of Revelation--

http://users.auth.gr/~pv/sanctus.htm

From an Orthodox site. Scroll down to the "heavenly Liturgy"

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/revelat.htm

Michael Dodaro said...

Ray,
I think Baptists have a liturgy; it’s simpler and not as ancient, but the tradition of Bible reading and breaking bread together in the communion are liturgical. The Bible is itself a liturgy as Scribe has said about the Book of Revelation. Modern translations often sterilize the texts, but reading even the most pedestrian translation can be moving, if the reader doesn’t stop every few lines for one reason or another. The introductions to Paul’s epistles are often skipped over, but they read like liturgy with their elaborate greetings and salutations. The love evident in the introductions is moving to me, and it negates a lot of the mean stereotypes of Paul created by James Baldwin or various recent feminists. When you read the introductions, you sense the wide scope of the gospel’s early influence and get a feeling for the spiritual connection between believers. Even the controversies are interesting; they prove the enduring power of this community of faith that persists into our era.

scribe said...

Here's a book review from a Catholic book review site of Scott Hahn's book "The Lamb's Supper" which is about the Mass and the Book of Revelation:


The key to understanding the Mass


THE LAMB’S SUPPER.
By Scott Hahn
(Doubleday & Co., 1540 Broadway,
New York, N.Y. 10036, 1999), 174 pp. HB

As a Protestant minister, Scott Hahn attended his first Mass to understand the early Christian writers who spoke of “the liturgy,” “the Eucharist” and “the sacrifice.” The robed priests, the incense, the altar, the invocation of the angels and saints, the congregation chanting “holy, holy, holy” and the title Lamb of God made him recognize the marriage feast before the throne of heaven described in the last book of the New Testament. In his most recent work, The Lamb’s Supper, Doctor Hahn states: “I propose that the key to understanding the Mass is the biblical Book of Revelation—and further, that the Mass is the only way a Christian can make sense of the Book of Revelation.”

In the first of the book’s three parts, “Gift of the Mass,” he demonstrates that as the sacrifice of the Passover lamb prefigured the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross of Calvary, so the offering of Melchizedek prefigured the Real Presence of Christ offered under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist. Using the Acts of the Apostles and the Didache as references, he further shows that for the first generation of the evangelized “to be a Christian was to go to Mass.” Having traced the roots of the liturgy to the Old Testament, he cites Justin Martyr and Hippolytus as witnesses of early liturgies which by their words and respectful silence—like the one in the Book of Revelation—unite earth with heaven in sealing the Covenant of God. Before bringing this section to a close, he emphasizes the benefit of a routine liturgy over spontaneity and explains some details of the liturgy (e.g., sign of the cross, confiteor, Gloria, scriptural readings, intercessory prayer, epiclesis, the narrative of institution, the communion rite).

In “The Revelation of Heaven,” the book’s second section, he asserts that what John describes is a new Jerusalem, a new covenant and a new order of worship. Revelation’s temple is modeled after the court of heaven where a nation of priests worships together with the angels. The beasts, angels, people and strange creatures that inhabit the Book are part of a pattern of covenant, fall, judgment and redemption describing every period of history. All of them are subject to the Lamb who is the Son of Man robed as high priest, the sacrificial victim and God himself.

Driving home the point that apart from the liturgy, the Book of Revelation is incomprehensible, he writes: “Now, where on earth can we find a universal Church that worships in a manner that is true to John’s vision? Where can we find priests in vestments standing before an altar? Where do we encounter men consecrated to celibacy? Where do we hear the angels invoked? Where do we find a Church that keeps the relics of the saints within its altars? Where does art extol the woman crowned with the stars, with the moon at her feet, who crushes the head of the serpent? Where do the faithful pray for the protection of St. Michael the archangel? Where else but in the Catholic Church, and most particularly in the Mass?”

In “Revelation for the masses,” his final section, Hahn claims that not only does the Apocalypse sparkle with details of the liturgy but that the book—like the Mass—divides into two parts. The first eleven chapters, containing the letters to the Churches and the opening of the scroll, matches the liturgy of the word. The second half, containing the pouring of the seven chalices and the marriage of the Lamb corresponds to the liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Lamb’s Supper deserves a wide reading. It reminds us that when we go to Mass we are participating in the heavenly liturgy, praying in union with the angels. It reminds us also of our obligation to fulfill our baptismal promises as we renew the New Covenant...

Rev. James Buckley, F.S.S.P.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
Lincoln, Nebraska

Michael Dodaro said...

I'm sitting in a lab at work with five other people doing research on digital protocols. But reading this review of The Lamb's Supper makes me weep. Either Hahn and Buckley have found the truth or I'm just an emotional sap.

scribe said...

I think what Hahn said about the Book of Revelation is true. It's the best explanation of Revelation that I've heard. Certainly much of the imagery is based on Old Testament temple worship which was continued in the Mass and the Divine Liturgy.

I had a Protestant published paperback once on Old Testament symbolism in the Book of Revelation. I'll have to take a look to see if I still have it.

Ray said...

Mike, you are right about us Baptists having a form of liturgy, that is what I was getting at in my second post above when I said we, in some ways, are not that much different than you. Our communion service, typically held once a month, is very liturgical in essence.

I appreciate Scribe's comments, she pointed out characteristics of Orthodox liturgy that are completely new to me. My perception is that liturgy can be very repetitious doing and saying essentially the same thing everytime. 347 years between identical repetitions is a bit beyond my lifetime.

My perception is that a liturgy is a prescribed order of service, a set pattern dictating exactly what must be said, when, by whom and how. We Baptists joke about how we don't dare upset the order of service or we'll confuse people. A typical Sunday morning service in my church is much like the Sunday before, just the music is different and the announcements may differ. There is an organ prelude (sometimes taped which I abhor with a passion), the choir enters from the right, the pastor greets and maybe reads a verse or two, a congregational hymn (standing of course), prayer, congregational hymn - seated, announcements and offering, choir, Scripture reading and prayer (loooong prayer), congregational hymn - standing while choir invades the congregation... er, joins their families, sermon, closing prayer, and postlude. Occasionally, pastor will alter the order prior to the sermon, but that always confuses the ushers and the congregation gets restless wondering what other liberal ideas he may present. And of course a well trained pastor will give a hermeneutically correct sermon, not just stand up and babble for 30 minutes as some do. The sermon is organized in a specific order.

Scribe, I agree Revelation is written about and to churches of all ages. In my comment above I was trying to be facetious and was being simplistic. In the beginning of the book John speaks of, I believe, the seven churches, each being an example of different levels of belief or spirituality. History to set the stage for what follows. I've never thought of Revelation in a liturgical way, but then I would not have the background to do so. One of these days I will reread it with that in mind. I actually began to write a cantata many years ago based on Revelation and got about a third of the way through then gave up.

Ray said...

Having just read the quotes from Hahn's book, I can see there may be a connection between Revelation and the Catholic Mass. I will take the word of you two and others experienced with the mass. But, I would take exception that one cannot understand Revelation apart from the mass. Revelation is not an easy book to understand and I agree full of imagery. (Scribe, this is an instance where Baptists are not pure literalists) But, understanding can come through context, there is a strong connection to the Old Testament, especially OT sections dealing with prophecy. The OT and the NT cannot be separated. Also, one can gain an understanding of Revelation through the Holy Spirit. I have sat under excellent teaching concerning Revelation which was apart from any liturgical context.

Enough theology, I must practice my trombone.

scribe said...

Ray--

The Baptist liturgy, as you describe it, sounds more like a business meeting with songs. It doesn't much match what we do. Where is the Introit? The Great Entrance? The Trisagion? The Cherubic Hymn? The Presentation of the Gifts? The confession of the symbol of faith? The Eucharist (which is given at every Divine Liturgy)? The liturgy represents the entire economy of salvation right up to the final consummation (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). The entire liturgy is an ascent from the material to the spiritual.

The Book of Revelation is regarded as being the most liturgical book of the New Testament, quoting as it does from Old Testament temple imagery. Attending a lecture on Revelation may be useful and edifying, but attending a service that enacts Revelation is an entirely different thing. One is a classroom situation which treats this book as an abstraction, the other is actual worship where that book (and much else) is enacted.

Ray said...

Hey Mike, can you picture Scribe as she posted that last reply? Proverbially standing there with one hand on a hip, tapping a foot, and wagging a finger scolding me for my ignorance.

Scribe, I wasn't trying to say Baptists matched the Orthodox liturgy, just that in some ways there are some similarities. It's not as though we are as far apart as an Orthodox church and a Buddhist temple. And I'm thinking more in conceptual terms rather than actual methodology.

My dictionary defines liturgy in part as "prescribed forms or ritual for public worship..." Clearly, the Orthodox and Catholics, among others, use prescribed forms and rituals in their worship services. Baptists, and other non-liturgical groups, will often criticize liturgical groups for being ritualistic. The perception has been that liturgical worship is based more on show and pagentry rather than substance. Or that the focus of the worship is on the process, not on God. But, Baptist worship often follows a presecribed form and we have our own rituals.

From how you have described your worship and from the many links you have provided (yes, I do check them all out) I would tend to agree with you that your services are probably much closer to OT Temple worship than any other type of Christian organization. But, I wonder what form worship took in the early church, the church as it formed as described in the book of Acts. The Bible doesn't really say. But, because of persecution most churches were probably house churches with smaller groups meeting to worship. They probably didn't have the accoutrements associated with the Jewish temple, nor the space we have in our current day churches for elaborate rutuals. Their worship may have been composed mainly of singing hymns (which is spoken of in the NT), prayer and Scripture study. One of the new waves today among some Evangelicals is house churches, groups of believers meeting in one another's homes for more of a Bible study type worship, but including singing and prayer and even communion. Their thinking is that this more closely resembles NT worship.

At this point I am neither defending nor criticizing. My perception is that many members of liturgical churches are infrequent participants and when they go it is more out of duty and by going through the ritualist motions they have fulfilled their obligation, then it is back to the real world. Not being a postmodernist, I don't believe that my perception is absolute reality. My perception may be wrong. And, it is very clear from what you two write, your passion, your beliefs, I would not catagorize you as nominal Christians that just go through the ritualistic motions.

Then again..... there is much truth to what you say about our Baptist worship being more like a business meeting with songs. I have asked myself, how is what we are doing considered worship? Are we just going through the motions? Do we understand what we are singing? Is the choir truly adding to a sense of worship or merely entertaining? Does anyone pay attention to the pastor during his sermon or are we in a fog or thinking about something else?

And speaking facetiously, I was just waiting for you two liturgists to turn on me since Jason isn't around much to beat up on over his choice of music.

Michael Dodaro said...

My understanding of the church in the first century is that it was mainly in the format of the synagogue, which was a teaching format, rather than that of the temple in which the more elaborate liturgical forms were used. I think the singing was unaccompanied. I don’t think Paul wore liturgical vestments while he was expounding his experience of the new faith. It didn’t take long though for liturgical forms to develop, and we have early records of baptismal rituals on Easter Eve. Art is in evidence from the catacombs. Baptismal fonts soon were more than functional objects.

No matter how you analyze worship, the requirements include spiritual involvement and truth in which understanding is implicit. Involvement in the historic tradition aids both transcendence of the era and culture and an understanding of doctrines that are based on events in time.

I have a salesman friend, an Episcopalian, who was doing business with a storefront church. He got involved in a discussion of theology with them and found to his surprise that nobody there had ever heard of the Nicene Creed. He offered to bring them a copy, and on his next visit brought a copy from the Book of Common Prayer. He was amazed to find them intimidated into silence. Nobody there knew what to make of this ancient formulation of Christian doctrine, and it was making them very uncomfortable, whereas for him it inspired hope and faith.

Ray said...

You nailed it, Mike. In John 24 we read of the Woman at the Well. Toward the conclusion of Jesus' conversation with her he said in vs23, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."

Yesterday my wife had lunch with our pastor's wife and one question she asked was, how can we minister to your husband. In part of her answer she relayed how it can be painful to hear criticism, such as the pastor's messages are too deep. Our pastor is a good student and spends a lot of time on his messages researching and quoting at times even from the church fathers from centuries past. But, that is not always appreciated. I have heard too often pastor's sermons where the pulpit was pounded and the message was centered around the evils of society with little or no spiritual depth. But, people can relate to that.

I suspect many who attend a liturgical service do so as spectators, especially the "Christmas and Easter" Christians. And on the other hand, those who attend non-liturgical services go to hear the preacher condemn sinners for their evil ways so they can leave feeling good about themselves knowing they don't smoke, drink, or go to evil movies (they rent them instead).

Too often we talk about "getting something out of going to church" as if the whole point was for us to learn a new truth, hence the lecture hall mentality. Ocassionally, people will comment about how much they liked the choir number on a specific Sunday, implying they weren't real impressed with some of the others. Even though I appreciate the compliments, the word entertainment starts to go through my mind and I wonder if they liked it better that Sunday because they found it more entertaining. Their goal was to be entertained. But, we are supposed to offering our sacrifices on to God, giving back to Him.

I'm finding this all fascinating and a challenge to my thinking.

Michael Dodaro said...

Another interesting thing is how the church occupied and transformed the pagan temples and basilicas of the Roman Empire. One way to understand this is to see it as Christianity infusing more complete meaning into forms that were ancient and beautiful. All truth is God’s truth, and all beauty is God’s beauty.
Now the most moving experiences for many people are the excitement of rock concerts. There are probably ways that these experiences can be redeemed. A lot of good people seem to think so.

scribe said...

Sorry Ray, if I came off sounding like I was shaking my finger at you, but I have been in enough evangelical churches to feel the flat business-like style that's too typical there. It had really put me off, most especially after my illness some years ago.

In Orthodox worship, the architectural/artistic elements of church building, the chant, and the actions that occur during the liturgy are combined to take a worshipper through the whole salvation history of Jesus. The liturgy is itself something to contemplate upon, a teacher of doctrine and dogma, and forms the basis of the dialogue of the worshipper with God.

It's true that, even in Orthodoxy, one can shift into "cruise mode" and let the whole thing become nothing more than a rote exercise that has no meaning. At Pascha, there will be a good number of folks coming to our church who we will never see throughout the rest of the year. This is inexcusable, but the priest can't force them. As you already mentioned, the same neglect and idleness will happen in an evangelical church during hymn-singing or when the pastor preaches--one can tune it all out.

When Christians quote at me: "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" I have no quarrel with that, but I'm also cognizant that many Christians' idea of "worshipping in spirit" means "make it up as we go along according to our mood". Often spirit means an emotional outburst (as with Pentecostals) or with the reformed groups it may mean that one says "amen, brother" to the preacher's analysis of a line of Scripture.

So what does spirit really mean in regard to worship? How do we know when we have it? For me, I know I'm in the groove, so to speak, when my attention gets really focused during the liturgy--the result is that it has happened that my vision of our environment gets enlarged or when the priest raises the Eucharist, it almost glows with significance. Then I begin to see the magnificent reality behind the very modest show we put on as a liturgy.

scribe said...

Now, if you fellas will excuse me, I'm going to ride my bike in this nice spring weather while I can.

Tonight and tomorrow it's suppose to storm again. Another sleepless night in the basement. If I could design my own house, it would be conical shape with bullet-proof glass with the bottom half buried in the ground with a tunnel leading to another shelter, just in case the tornado carries the first shelter to Oz.

Ray said...

No need to apologize, Scribe. I understood what you were trying to communicate. Electronic communication allows us to meet new people and make new friends so easily, but at the same time, something can be lacking... the true emotion behind the words.

I agree with you concerning the meaning of worshipping in spirit. Jesus tells us to do that but doesn't describe how it is done. So we end up with all flavors of Christian worship with everyone thinking their way is best. And just maybe, it is the best for them. But, that is a dangerous statement considering often differing views also include theological error, which I'm not condoning or saying that all ways lead to heaven.

I hope you enjoyed your bike ride. The wife and I got a walk in and I raked my entire yard starting my spring cleanup.

Your vision of the ideal home sounds very modern and not in keeping with your conservative and Orthodox views.

Ray said...

Oh and Mike, I've never been to a rock concert. I'm so deprived.

Ray said...

This morning Pastor began the morning service saying that our purpose was to worship, fellowship and learn.

scribe said...

So as to my question as to what is the Spirit in worship (or what it looks like), what's your take on it?

At church, we've started rehearsing for our Holy Week services--lots of hymns, troparia, kontakia, responses, etc to try and get right. We have an extra alto now, but we still need a bona fide tenor. Our bass section is ok, provided our main bass can get off his Coast Guard duty for Holy Week. We really need him--he's our deepest bass and what's an Orthodox choir without decent basses.

Our favorite choir director (who now teaches at Princeton) will come back on Good Friday to lead us through the most difficult parts of the Holy Week services. He's a wealth of info on Orthodox liturgies, plus he's so emotive as he directs. If we go off key, he gives us the most puckered up lemony look; if we do well, he looks all blissed out.

A bonus--one of our former parishioners who moved back to Seattle sent us a sizable donation. Our priest commissioned a Greek Orthodox iconographer to paint six icons (measuring 3x2 feet) for our iconostasis (rood screen), and we received them this past week. They are beautiful!!!

Ray--

I enjoyed my bike ride yesterday which went around the university then over through the park past the art museum, the fountations, the canals, the zoo, thence to my neighborhood coffee shop to try and finish up my library book on Churchill, then home.

Today was dodging storms and tornados again. Tonight the tornado siren went off on my block, followed by a loudspeaker voice "Take cover, Take cover". So I was down in my basement with an icon duty doing my prayer duty for the neighborhood. Once again, it worked and the worst of it swerved around us.

Maybe God sends these storms to make sure I pray regularly. You think?

Ray said...

My take on Spirit in worship? Well, for starters it wasn't the man a couple pews ahead of me this morning snoring throughout the sermon. Or, maybe it was since I don't know what he was dreaming about.

That's an easy question to ask, but a difficult one to answer. We refer to the church building as God's House, implying that we go there to meet God. Or, commune with God. The Spirit of worship obviously includes the idea of respect. As we sing, we should be singing to God, therefore, our singing should reflect that we are communicating with God.

How do we act around our clergy? How would we act if meeting face to face with the President? Are or would we be more formal in our speech and manners? God deserves nothing less. As I've said before, I strive to have my choir sing with understanding, going beyond just singing notes. We were rehearsing a song tonight in choir practice that has its roots in chant and rhythmically was not that exciting - a lot of half notes and quarter notes. But, the text had a lot of excitement and I pushed the choir to put that excitement into their singing. For example, I'm always telling them to put movement into sustained notes, don't just sit on them. Sing so that the emotion of the text is accurately portrayed. That is worshiping in spirit and the concept should be extended to congregational singing, giving our tithes and offerings, Bible reading, prayer, and listening to the sermon. Or even participation in a liturgical service. One who attends a liturgical service and just sits there as an observer is no more worshipping in spirit than the man who slept through the sermon in my church this morning.

Scribe, you make me nostalgic for my bike riding days. Before my kids starting delivering newspapers, I would often get up at 6AM on Sundays to go for a 20 mile ride. It was a good start to the day and really helped me to be alert.

I'm glad you stayed safe from any tornadoes. And I'm sure your prayers were helpful.