Friday, May 20, 2016

Link Dump: Recent Reading, May 2016

It's been a while since I did a links post, but there are a couple of things I wanted to share, so here's what I've been reading lately.

The past couple of weeks have been General Conference, which I've followed pretty closely, so a lot of what I've read for the past couple of weeks has been about goings on at GC.

Short summary: it's been rough. There are still some things from GC that I want to share.

First, Bishop Gregory Palmer gave the Episcopal Address. Bishop Palmer spoke at New England Annual Conference last year, and it was incredible. This address was, as well. The text is here, but if you have the time, I'd really recommend listening to it; here's the video. I love what he says about humility and about prayer, and then there's this: "Everyone here is a child of God; hard stop; period. Any behavior to the contrary of that truth undermines the Gospel and a choice to live beneath our privilege."

I also really appreciated this blog post by Rev. Katie Dawson from a couple of days ago. This was written after the body had asked the Council of Bishops to come up with a proposal for moving forward but before the bishops had come back with a statement. The post talks about blessing in unity and blessing despite separation, and it ends with excerpts from the covenant prayer. Yes.

Quick squee: we are now in full communion with the Moravian Church! (And also the Uniting Church of Sweden.)

Not related to General Conference: This article appeared in the Boston Globe, and it's about Sanctuary United Church of Christ in West Medford, MA. It's beautifully written, and it's so true to the stories I have heard and lived of Mainline churches in New England.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Written for today's service at church, which was led by the graduating seniors.

I believe in singing our faith.

I believe in singing the Psalms, the ancient songs of anger, lament, and praise. In the Psalms we sing with David, sing with the Jewish people on the way to the festivals, sing with a people in exile. Sing with a people who know that God is still with them and God is still for them.

I believe in singing the songs that the church has raised together through history. ``Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might." ``Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." ``Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy."

I believe in singing the songs of the great hymn writers. Proclaiming God as a mighty fortress with Martin Luther. Rejoicing with God's saints with Fred Pratt Green. Believing in the promise of new life that God alone can see with Natalie Sleeth. Calling a thousand tongues to sing our Redeemer's praise with Charles Wesley. Being assured with Fanny Crosby that this is our story and our song.

I believe in singing the hymns that tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love. I believe in singing songs that work on us, that lead us back to God when we are lost, lead us to God as revealed in Scripture and God working in the world. In the times when I have most questioned the importance of Scripture, it was hymnody that helped me state my faith, hymnody that helped me grow, hymnody that brought me back to belief in the word of God as a firm foundation for faith. Even in our doubt -- especially in our doubt -- singing shapes us.

I believe in singing the songs of the seasons. I believe in singing the songs of a people waiting for a savior, of God Incarnate born to a young woman, of Jesus blessing, breaking, and giving bread. Songs of our mourning beneath the cross, our rejoicing at the empty tomb. Receiving the Holy Spirit. Being sent forth. And once again, waiting -- waiting for Christ who will come again.

I believe in singing the songs of the sacraments. I believe in singing songs of new life and baptism, recognizing that God claims us and that we are children of blessing and promise, proclaiming that children belong among us. I believe in singing songs of Christ welcoming us to God's table, of God meeting us in bread and cup, of being made one with Christ and one with each other.

I believe in singing as we work, singing as we wait, singing as we watch, singing through dim and bright.

I believe, above all of this, in singing the songs together. Building up each other's voices. Teaching each other to sing. Singing for each other when we falter.

We are bound together by Christ's death and resurrection. We are a thousand voices, but we are one Church. There is one bread, one Body, one Lord of all.

That is why we sing.