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Category: Sunday Morning

Words

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What are words? Nothing more than symbols, metaphors, pointers.

Words aren’t real. But they restrict your experience of reality. Words can’t see. But they limit your vision. Words have no more power than that which you give them, which is just enough power to bind you. You are trapped by your words, hemmed in — even in your ability to perceive and think — by the words you have at your disposal.

Take, for instance, the common claim that Jesus died on a cross. What does it mean to die? I asked a few of my students, and they offered the following possibilities: 1) a ceasing of existence, 2) the end of life, 3) total absence of a previously existent living thing.

So what do you mean when you say that Jesus died? Fully God and fully man, did he cease to exist? Can God, omnipresent God, stop being present?

It’s just an issue of semantics, you may argue. But that’s not true. If words are what you know, then it can’t be “just” semantics (as if such issues of vocabulary are beneath you). Your entire theology — a collection of words — is at stake.

How do you escape this tyranny of words? Words were meant to serve, not rule. Throw out the dusty slogans, the tired metaphors, the lazy platitudes, the claims of convenience. Think about what you really mean, about what you believe. Try on some new words. But don’t be too quick to purchase what others are wearing, don’t settle for a single outfit and don’t be afraid to go without for awhile.

Think about what you really mean, about what you believe. Try on some new words.

Sunday Space

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Sunday morning services serve as space-less places. We fill them up with songs and sermons and passings of the offering plate (with background music, of course). What we really need is silence — space to listen. Why are we afraid?

Maybe it is because the openness of unprogrammed worship — in paring away the outside noise — leaves us no choice but to face the noise within: hypocrisy, phoniness, the false self we project (a fragile image).

Maybe it is because such silence seems a waste of time. We cannot exploit the silence: use it to turn a profit, make a product or persuade.

Maybe it is because we are a shallow people. It is harder to be in silence than to not be in noise. Frantic streams of words cover our spiritual nakedness. Music soothes, puts to sleep the beasts of doubt and discouragement.

“It is necessary that we find God, and he cannot be found in noise and unpeace. The more we receive through quiet prayer, the more we can give in the activity of our daily lives. In essence, it is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words are useless if they do not come from within. Words that do not carry the light of Christ only increase the darkness.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

It is harder to be in silence than to not be in noise.

Religious Services

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The results of a recent Barna study show that just about every American is religious. Only about 6 percent of the population identifies itself as atheist. But nearly one-third of U.S. citizens doesn’t attend religious services.

People value their faith, but church attendance is not similarly valued. I know that church attendance can’t take the place of belief, but it has always seemed a natural consequence of a real and vibrant faith. So what’s happening here? What does it mean?

Is there something wrong with the Church or the ways in which we meet together for worship? Has the practice of meeting together somehow become an obstacle to the practice of authentic belief? Are there societal or cultural issues at work?

I’d like to know.

Has the practice of meeting together become an obstacle to the practice of authentic belief?

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