Sunday, September 21, 2014

Assorted Thoughts and Questions on the UMC

In which I mostly question why UMCs don't do various things more often/at all.

-- Methodist Crossroads is encouraging people to be in prayer for 90 days for the United Methodist Church and its leaders, and even though I don't completely agree with their position, I think this is a very good idea. In the prayers of the people at the Anglican Church I've been attending in Budapest, every week we pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the local bishops by name ("Strengthen Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, and our bishops, Robert and David"), as well as praying for a couple of diocese around the world, based on set cycles of prayer. I've never been in a Methodist church that so publicly and regularly prayed for its leaders and global body. (The exception is with missionaries - I was a member of a church that prayed for the UM missionaries who'd had birthdays that week.) Making a habit of praying for our leaders and praying for our church - our global church - is an important part of being in connection, and as a denomination we claim to value connectionalism. Praying for our leaders and church also helps us truly give these issues over to God. The problems the UMC is having are not problems we should be solving on our own.

-- In Wesley's sermon 7 (The Way to the Kingdom), he mentions the Athanasian creed along with the Apostles' and the Nicene. The Athanasian creed isn't even in the UM hymnal, though. Why not? Why don't we use it? The Anglican Church doesn't seem to, either, at least not much. Did they at the time that Wesley wrote the sermon? It's a very trinitarian creed. Is there something objectionable that I've missed in it?

-- Once a month, the Anglican church I've been attending does a healing anointing. This reminded me of the fact that earlier this week I read some articles and tweets about how a lot of UMs and UMCs seem to not expect - or necessarily want, sometimes - transformation and about how it seems like we don't really believe that God is actively working in miraculous ways. (The specific example was with healing. When we pray for healing, do we really believe that God will do it?) The healing anointing in the service is simple, and it's quick, but its practice and the prayers that are said imply and encourage a belief in a living, working, healing God. Is there a reason this isn't a common practice in the UMC? I know there's a service of healing in the Book of Worship, but this is much less involved than that.

Then again, most UMCs only offer communion once a month and often say they don't do it more often because of the length, so asking for something else to be added to service, even occasionally, is a stretch. (The communion thing is ridiculous, by the way. It's a means of grace, for heaven's sake. Weekly communion, please. And no, offering the elements to people individually in a chapel afterwards is not the same.)

Friday, September 19, 2014


Be still
for in the stillness you will begin to hear
and every dance begins with stillness
and dance is obĂ©issance 
Be still
so that you may be surrounded and enveloped
the warmth will come when you are called
when you will know
Be still
pull up and lift as you step because
some movement is always stillness
the wind blows you home
Be still

Saturday, September 13, 2014

He That Abideth in Love Abideth in God

The Conference of the Anglican-Lutheran Society is in Hungary this week, and it opened with a Choral Evensong in Budapest this week. I had never been to Evensong before, but I loved the service, and it felt like it was exactly what I needed to hear and experience this week.

The choir sang an Introit based on Isaiah 42, Revelation 22, and Colossians 4 as well as Psalms 59, 60, and 61 and the Magnificat and the Song of Simeon. There was also an anthem based on Psalm 89, and the lessons were from Habakkuk 1 and Mark 7. Here are some excerpts from the rest of the service - little bits of liturgy, prayers, and the collects.

God is love;
And he that abideth in love
Abideth in God
And God in him.

Collect of the Day:
Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Peace
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Collect For Aid Against All Perils
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of they only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Excerpt from the General Thanksgiving
Give me that due sense of all thy mercies, that my heart may be unfeignedly thankful; and that I show forth thy praise, not only with my lips, but in my life, by giving up myself to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all my days; through Jesus Christ our LORD, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

The Gloria
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be: World without end. Amen.

The Grace
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,
Be with us all evermore.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Youth in the Church

I was prepared to dislike this post about youth in the church based on the preview I saw ("There is no Christian youth"), but instead it's one of the best things I've read on the subject.

From one of my Annual Conference posts in June, it's pretty obvious I care a lot about young people being active in the church and having both the privileges and the responsibilities of members of the church (because they are members). The article is about Bonhoeffer's argument that creating a place of privilege in the church for youth is actually a bad idea, not a good one, because it separates them from the life of the congregation.

This is not an argument against youth ministry or children's ministry or college ministry. Instead, as Root write in the article, "Bonhoeffer believes that we should continue to do youth ministry. But we should do it by undercutting youth ministry as a privileged space. We should do youth ministry as way of moving the young into the center of the church community."

A youth ministry should certainly connect youth with each other, but it should also connect youth with the rest of the church.

Root mentions "special youth rooms and youth ministries." I think there is a place for these things. I grew up in churches where a lot of Sunday school classes were made up of people of roughly similar ages, so with that setting youth rooms and Sunday school classes are consistent with the rest of the community. Just as having United Methodist Women's circles doesn't separate women off from the church or having a Sunday school class intended for couples with young children doesn't keep those couples to the edge of the church community, places and activities for youth don't in and of themselves cut youth off from the rest of the body.

But too often, youth are only active in youth programs, and those programs aren't well integrated with the rest of the church.