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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:33 am 
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Prim, in the similar way, there a many interfaith families in my synagogue and the non-Jewish persons are active in the... community part of the religious community rather than a religious part.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:16 am 
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Yes. And I suspect he does the same in her community.

BTW, what she does in our church is go out during communion (toward the end of the service) and put out the coffee and cookies for after the service. Talk about being essential to a Lutheran community. . . . :P

I don't want to seem patronizing or belittling. She's part of the church just like any of us.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:37 pm 
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Nin wrote:
Besides this, the institution leaves me bewildered. A service, I find usually boring: a pastor speaking about a biblical passage which would be often better interpretated by a historian or a litterature professor, an improvised choir, singing hymns which sound massacred... nothing to look forward to.. but then in difficult situations, like especially my father's funeral, I find no solace in church. On the contrary, it disturbs what I need most for grief or reflection: quiet and reflexion and a reasonable amount of doubt. Maybe it's because I feel like I already know what I will hear before even getting there and as if I'm in church, it's protestant, there is no musical lithurgy which is beautiful enough to make me stay for that reason. It's... intellectually mediocre and lithurgally boring.


Nin's post got me thinking. Her description describes rather well a number of Protestant churches I've been in. :blackeye:

Although that very English version of Protestantism -- Anglicanism -- has a glorious tradition of choral music which is simply sublime. :love:

Also, Nin, I think that should be a place for quiet and reflection and churches that don't offer that space for reflection are really missing out ... both on their mission to the community and also really missing out themselves. :scratch:

And yes, there is a place for doubt. The Psalms are full of doubts.

I think there is a real place for beauty in worship. It doesn't have to be mega-professional, or polished. It can be very simple. But surely an element of beauty in our sacred spaces is required ... otherwise what are we Christians saying about the God we believe in? ;) I am very responsive to beautiful music (including, but not exclusively, choral) and the creative use of visuals in worship.

I am also keen on joyful, passionate worship ... like these guys:
http://www.lcgc.org.uk/

Quote:
So in fact, I often wonder too: "Why church??? WHat the heck drives people to this organisation? Why do they spend regularly so much time in this place which I find boring and ennoying?"


I myself don't see it as being driven to being part of an 'organisation'. I mean, it's so much more than that to me. Despite just how annoying and infuriating church can sometimes be (because it's made up of fallible, silly human beings), 'true' church is part of a mystical community in time and space that transcends mere earthly barriers. I hope that makes some kind of sense.

This, btw, is my nearest local cathedral (Rochester is also home to the Charles Dickens legacy :D ):
http://www.rochestercathedral.org/news/special-events

I don't worship there but I love visiting the place. Rochester is one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain: it's also actually quite small, at least compared with other English cathedrals.

There is a statue of St. Gundulf in the cathedral ... a Norman monk who came over in the Conquest and became Bishop. :D He also built the White Tower in the Tower of London.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gundulf_of_Rochester

There's also a fragment of a medieval tiled pavement, and a restored medieval wall painting of the Wheel of Fortune. OK, this is history rather than spirituality but I find it all so fascinating. ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:56 pm 
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Di wrote:
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that very English version of Protestantism -- Anglicanism -- has a glorious tradition of choral music which is simply sublime. :love:


Absolutely, and I'm sure a lot of you know that I have a vested interest in that tradition ;)

Btw, Di, I've sung in Rochester twice now, and am due to sing Evensong there again with my eldest boys on April 5th - love climbing up the Gundulf tower to the choir vestry! :thumbsup:

But I still reckon you can't beat my home cathedral of Chichester for beauty, intimacy and welcome... :)

http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/dyn/pages/about-us/

With regard to cathedrals, they are of course the focal point of the church in its locality. In the Middle Ages they were centres of learning and a source of inspiration through their art and architecture. Frequently they were the goal of pilgrims who travelled to visit the shrines of the saints...men and women and children of all walks of life, rich and poor, good and bad, travelled together, sharing experiences, storytelling, receiving and giving support and encouragement in life’s journey.

The cathedrals still offer the same today - a welcome, provide hospitality and a place of prayer, quiet reflection or meditation to people of all faiths or of none. They still inspire you with their soaring architecture, and often combine the best of modern art along side the traditional. In my local cathedral you can see paintings by Graham Sutherland and Hans Feibusch, sculptures by Philip Jackson, tapestries by Ursula Benker-Schirmer and a stained glass window by Marc Chagall. And the music is truly Heavenly...

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:38 pm 
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But nowadays, the pilgrims arrive by tour bus ;).

Being a 'tourist' visiting churches/cathedrals is an uncomfortable feeling. I'd much rather be a pilgrim than a tourist. Before I went to Italy, a priest told me to drop some coins in the poor box in every church I went into. Seeing as how it was Holy Week in Rome, I went into a lot of churches. 8) It wasn't any significant amount of money (and you can't change coins at the airport, anyway), but it did help me to be just a tiny bit part of that community. It's like what happens if you light a candle when you pray in a church; you leave, but the candle keeps burning.

A friend also taught me that every time you go into a new church, especially if you are 'just visiting' and not there for any services, to take the time to kneel down and say a prayer. That helps to keep from being just a tourist, and makes the visit more meaningful (even if you're 'really' there for the art or history).

England was tougher, because they made you pay real money to get into the churches in the first place. So, I *was* a tourist, looking at old churches. Except in Canterbury, where I was able to go to a service rather than take a tour. It means I didn't get to see the crypt, but it was cool just to be in the cathedral. And free ;). I didn't make it to Chichester or Rochester...there's only so much you can see in 6 days....

Walking pilgrimages are still the best. My sister did one to Chartres, I think, and I'd love to walk to Santiago de Compostela some day. Maybe next summer....


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:57 pm 
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Elen, yay 5 April! I might be around: difficult to say, as it's Easter Monday then and there is a lot going on with my family at the moment. I can't promise anything but if perchance I am around ... :)

MithLuin wrote:
England was tougher, because they made you pay real money to get into the churches in the first place.


Mith, this policy really bugs me! I am not sure that every Cathedral in the UK does it: I think some suggest a donation -- which I am sure most people don't mind giving. But certainly the great London cathedrals charge a fee, and it ain't cheap. :roll: It really does feel all wrong to me, charging people to enter a place of worship ... it turns the place from sacred space into a museum.

You get in free if you're planning to go to a service.

I realise that they're national treasures, these ancient buildings, and require mighty upkeep, but I've been to the great churches in Rome and Florence, which are nearly as old and certainly just as beautiful and impressive, and they don't charge you money to enter those. :scratch:

You pay to get into the Uffizi. :D Man, it was worth every lira. :love: In London, our art galleries and museums are free, but our great churches are not. I find that ... skewed.

I'm glad you got to Canterbury. :)

One of my favourite cathedrals is Durham ... it dominates the skyline of the town, and it has such a strong Celtic vibe.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Yes, I agree...doesn't seem right like that. Chichester only asks for a donation, but Salisbury charges for entry, and Canterbury, when I was there last in January, I noticed charges on the gate to the Close now! That's one of the benefits of singing in the cathedral singers ensemble that I belong to - free entry to our great cathedrals :D

But Di is right, the cathedrals don't charge entry if you are there to attend a service.

Di - I'd forgotten it was Easter Monday! but would be lovely to see you again if you are free...we are usually there the best part of the day rehearsing for the service.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:07 pm 
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Pearly Di wrote:
Also, Nin, I think that should be a place for quiet and reflection and churches that don't offer that space for reflection are really missing out ... both on their mission to the community and also really missing out themselves. :scratch:

And yes, there is a place for doubt. The Psalms are full of doubts.



Maybe they think they offer it. But it's not enough for me. I like silence. Hours of silence and I understand the minutes you can offer in a service are not enough. And the doubt in psalms is too superficial for me. In the end, they always pray, so they think there is a God... very little for me...

Maybe I was born like this... my mother always told that at my baptism, I was crying so hard that the pastor wanted to send her (with me) out. She refused vividly, telling that I was after all the reason all those people were here... apparently, I knew it was not the place for me to be.

But I like visiting churches and I make the effort to be correctly dressed to do so, to behave well, to whisper, not to take pictures... and I like the athmosphere. I love empty churches. They are beautiful and thought provoking. So, I try to respect what they mean to other people but when during travelling I can find a church without people and without sermons (which can easily happen in the wonderful Roman churches of Burgundy), I am happy.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:14 am 
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Most churches I have been a part of have offered meditative services with simple chants and much silence, or gatherings for group meditation -- in addition to the more boisterous Sunday worship services. Some of us find those offerings more nourishing to the spirit.

I've only visited two churches in London (during one short visit): St. Paul's and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. St. Paul's was beautiful but felt like a tourist attraction. Even seeing a service there, I felt as though it was a show put on for the onlookers. St. Martin-in-the-Fields felt more like a church. I lit a candle and stopped to pray.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:41 am 
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Nin, :hug:

Psalm 88 is the bleakest of the psalms, IMO. I'm glad it's there in the canon though.

WampusCat wrote:
Most churches I have been a part of have offered meditative services with simple chants and much silence, or gatherings for group meditation -- in addition to the more boisterous Sunday worship services. Some of us find those offerings more nourishing to the spirit.


I like both but agree that silence and meditation are tremendously nourishing.

Quote:
I've only visited two churches in London (during one short visit): St. Paul's and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. St. Paul's was beautiful but felt like a tourist attraction. Even seeing a service there, I felt as though it was a show put on for the onlookers. St. Martin-in-the-Fields felt more like a church. I lit a candle and stopped to pray.


That's interesting, Wampus (and I do love St. Paul's). St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a church I really like. Not just because it's a beautiful, historic building (it was renovated recently and looks even more fabulous) but because it's a liberal Anglican church with a truly excellent ministry to homeless people and a very positive contribution to music and the arts. They do loads of classical concerts there: Jewelsong and I went to a wonderful Christmas carol service there last December, very uplifting.

Last year I popped into St. Martin's on the way home from work for their Ash Wednesday Communion service. The music was really beautiful :love: and the sermon was short but profound.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:27 pm 
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Nin wrote:
. I like silence. Hours of silence


You want a Quaker Meeting, then. There is no pastor or priest, no order or worship, no singing, no readings.

There are people gathered to wait in "joyful expectation." Sometimes no one says anything for an entire hour. Sometimes someone, if so moved, will rise to speak.

When my kids were little, that hour of silent worship was one of the most precious times of the week for me!


Wampus wrote:
St. Paul's was beautiful but felt like a tourist attraction. Even seeing a service there, I felt as though it was a show put on for the onlookers. St. Martin-in-the-Fields felt more like a church. I lit a candle and stopped to pray.


I agree with you about both churches, Wampus. I love St Martins - it has a beautiful "vibe" to it and they have wonderful concerts!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:33 pm 
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WampusCat wrote:
I've only visited two churches in London (during one short visit): St. Paul's and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. St. Paul's was beautiful but felt like a tourist attraction. Even seeing a service there, I felt as though it was a show put on for the onlookers. St. Martin-in-the-Fields felt more like a church. I lit a candle and stopped to pray.


The Anglican tradition of Choral Evensong may seem like a show put on for tourists in the big cathedrals, but I promise you that sung Evensong has been held day in, day out for centuries with very little change, and whether there is a congregation full of tourists or not. Crucifer will vouch for that. It can be very moving to attend such a service with just a handful of the local parishioners.

The same service is taken by the cathedral choirs everyday of the week except one. For example, My son sings Evensong everyday except Wednesday, which is quaintly termed "dumb day", and even then the service is "said". It is simply a throw back to the time when all the daily services were taken by monks who chanted them. Matins and Evensong are the ones that have survived, and Matins is normally only sung on Sundays in the cathedrals. There are still a dwindling number of parish churches that have sung Evensong on a Sunday if they have a choir capable...mine is one such.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:47 pm 
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I love Evensong whenever and wherever I can find it! The service I saw at St. Paul's was a small mid-day one with no music, while tourists milled about all around.

I'm glad to hear that my sense of St. Martin's wasn't off base. I only stopped by because I was at the time a member of a St. Martin's here, across the pond. I'm glad I did.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:39 pm 
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The need for silence is something that we ignore too much in modern life. How often do people have the opportunity to just 'be still'?

This came up in, of all places, Oprah's show this week: Reflection on Silence and Prayer. I do recognize the irony of posting a video of people talking about the need for silence ;).

Perpetual adoration chapels also offer silence. Well, people do come and go, so there's not complete silence, but the etiquette is that one does not speak aloud or sing in such places, unless it is during a liturgy of some sort.

St. Clement's] in Boston started this up again last summer, and this article is a good introduction to the practice (though there is inordinate use of the word 'wafer').

I think this group in Switzerland offers the same, but my French is very limited, so I'm not entirely sure ;). Fraternite Eucharistein


I have only experienced chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours when I have hung around religious communities. (Most recently, at the Dominican House of Studies in DC in January.) I think it's awesome that the Anglicans have maintained that tradition at the parish level! Catholic parish priests say their breviary privately (and likely silently). Personally, I prefer spoken recitation to chanting or silence, because I feel I can participate without being a huge penance to others (my singing voice leaves something to be desired). But it is beautiful to hear others sing it!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:52 pm 
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You are all very kind, but I am not attracted to any group of any kind. :) I think the more I read the social side of chruch onyl works when you believe in the spiritual side or if at least you enjoy it. I don't.

I like and I need silence or music - no talking - alone. And I doubt age will change it.

It's interesting to read what you write because some things are so alien to me. I never went regularly to church and would feel it as a burden if I had to attend it now.

But I am glad that church offers community and solace to others, like you.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:13 pm 
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This topic triggers a confusing mixture of thoughts and feeling in me. Good experiences and bad ones. I don't think I can sort them out in one go, but here's what sprang to my mind at first:

For me church is community, on a spiritual basis, but it depends a lot on the people who are forming the communities. Some are more Pope-ish than the Pope himself (a poor translation of a German saying) and I never found anything but anger and alienation in those communities. Someone at the beginning of this thread said that there are different people, but they are all supposed to love each other. In those communities, I'm talking about, such a love or at least acceptance of the variety does not exist. Unfortunately my son got into such a group when he prepared for his First Holy Communion when he was eight years old and ever since he has only set a foot into a church when he couldn't avoid it or when he was sight-seeing - and I can't blame him.

My daughter had the opposite experience and she couldn't even imagine to get married without God's blessing, but she doesn't go to church regularly though.

My current employer is a part of the Catholic church and sometimes I wonder, why my religious belief, next to my qualification, was decisive to get the job.

That's it for now. I think there will be more later, after sorting out my thoughts. However, this is a wonderful thread. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Why Church?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:58 am 
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So, the best thread I could think of to post this in was this one.

Why church? I have no idea what the answer would be for anyone but me; I wouldn't presume to guess. But tonight I got a strong reason why this church, and why it continues to be at the center of my life, and even my husband's—whose spiritual life started in a really incompatible place, and who has slowly, slowly, come to love where we are—to the point, sometimes, of being deeply moved by what happens here.

Tonight was the Maundy Thursday service. This is the ELCA Lutheran term for the Holy Week (=lead-up to Easter) service that commemorates the Last Supper: Jesus' distribution of the bread and the wine, one of the two acts (besides baptism) that is a sacrament in all Christian churches that have sacraments.

The usual observance of this is communion, which we did (though differently than usual; instead of coming forward to be given the bread and wine by the pastor and assistants, we served each other, passing the bread and wine along the ring of congregants). But one of the four gospels (John) doesn't mention the bread and the wine at all. Instead Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. They are horrified, because this was something servants/slaves typically did for guests at a dinner. Peter refuses entirely, until Jesus says, do this or you will have no part of me. Then Peter does his Peter thing and lurches too far in the other direction—then wash my hands and my head, too, Lord! And Jesus says, calm down, dude, and washes his feet.

So, in our church, this service is a simple and short one. No fancy music, just congregational singing. Our nave has movable chairs, and on this night they're arranged in a circle with all of us facing each other. We hear the story of the Last Supper, and listen to a brief sermon.

And then comes the foot washing.

The foot washing is done by the pastor and the president of the congregation. There's a station kind of off to the side, and anyone who wants to (and their kids) comes there while the congregation is singing a series of hymns, to have their feet washed.

So, I am the vice president of the congregation this year, and the president couldn't be there. So I washed people's feet beside our pastor.

It was . . . surprisingly powerful. Tom (the pastor) and I, kneeling on the floor beside each other, took turns pouring warm water over people's feet and carefully drying them with towels we wore around our waists. Old people, young people, little kids. Don't get me wrong, it was not a huge service, and only some wanted their feet washed.

But it surprised me how strongly this affected me. It made me think about how exactly leaders should serve, and how important it is that they do so. What that contributes to building a sense of membership. Why Jesus, who Christians believe was God, knelt and did this for his disciples at the very last moment of his ministry as a living man—before his torture and execution. (He was with them later, Christians believe, but briefly and mysteriously, and after that literally rose into the sky, never to be seen again.)

I'm still digesting this. With gratitude, it goes without saying, that as a woman I can and do lead here.

As a footnote, a few minutes before the service started, Tom and his wife got a phone call that their son and daughter-in-law had gone to the hospital to deliver their first grandchild. The sermon was, needless to say, concise. . . .

I love my church. :love:

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 Post subject: Re: Why Church?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:17 pm 
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That has been my experience as well, Prim. The end of the service always gave me chills, when the altar is stripped and the lights go down. For years I would slowly chant Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...” while this was done. Now that I work nights, I can’t attend this service. It’s a real loss. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Why Church?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:33 pm 
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:hug:

The congregation read all of Psalm 22 antiphonally while the pastor and intern reverently stripped the altar and the pastor veiled the cross. Then we all got up and walked out silently. There was a beautiful near-full moon shining through the trees. I saw people pointing to it. Didn't hear a word.

Tonight we hear the Passion story as the lights go slowly out.

(Oh, and the baby was born at 3:28 this morning, a healthy girl. She and mom are both doing fine, says Pastor Grandpa.)

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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 Post subject: Re: Why Church?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:20 pm 
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:hug:


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