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Thoughts About Music

I have a friend, he’s a medical doctor and has probably seen some pretty moving things during his years of practice. But he once told me that the only time he has cried in the past ten years was while listening to Bach’s Mass in B minor. That confirms for me what I already knew, that music can move the soul like nothing else in this world can. So the natural question is how can that reality be leveraged for spiritual purposes within sacred community? And this is not a new idea. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written nearly two thousand years ago, he urged his friends to “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

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Music Moments

Such a captivating experience is not limited by the type or setting of the music. Classical, pop, bluegrass, jazz, country, blues, to name common Western music, all have the capacity to release an energy within us, previously pent up, but now free. That release can and does happen to anyone, any time, any place. Music is one of the great equalizers of persons. No matter who you are, you are susceptible to this unfathomed power. What is going on here?

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Singing in the Beloved Community

St. Augustine said that the one who sings, prays twice. We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words; we get closest to praying as we ought when we sing. But church singing has changed rapidly in the 30-some years I’ve been a pastor. The hip new hymnal that came out in the nineties contains far too many hymns that were written for an organ and a congregation in the hundreds, not a guitar, a piano, and a raggedy chorus of twenty-some.

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What Kind of Music do We Use?

I believe that any truly spiritual path must understand that its main function is to provide the opportunity to experience true Unity or Oneness with all Creation. There are many ways to say the same thing, but every church, religious, or spiritual gathering is trying to help the attendee experience that Oneness. And I am convinced that one of the places we can do that is with music. The mega-churches in large part figured that out decades ago. But go into a typical church today with sixty members and listen to them try and experience Oneness or sense of Connectedness as they stumble through a difficult hymn or debate theology. Most people at some point in that experience are just hoping for the hymn to be over.

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Progressive Praise

The varieties of religious experience call forth hymns and songs, emerging from the varieties of cultures, personality types, and religious expressions. Our worship and song reflects this diversity. We join in sacred worship traditional and contemporary, North American and African, and European and Asian. We chant hymns from Taize and melodies from Iona, and dance to “Siyahamba” (We are marching in the light of God), sometimes in the same service.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 15: Being an Instrument for Blessing

Finding ways to be a blessing to others is the best way to avoid doing harm. The idea of non-injury or harmlessness extends beyond our actions to our words and thoughts as well. We don’t want to burden children with guilt about their thoughts, but we want to offer opportunities to infuse their hearts and minds with thoughts of blessing and peace toward others.

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Prayer of Dedication — Offering

Oh Dear One, may these scraps of paper and bits of metal serve as symbols of our deep desire for your Love to transform our time, effort, and substance into works of creative compassion for each other,

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 3: Inclusive Community. Seasons & Special Events: Ordinary Time. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Texts: Matthew. Prayers: Call to Worship. Rituals: Dedication. Resource Types: Liturgical Element.

Call to Celebration

Hungry for meaning?
Welcome home.
Thirsty for purpose?
Welcome home.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 3: Inclusive Community and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Ages: Adult. Prayers: Call to Worship and Invocation. Resource Types: Liturgical Element.

A Visit to Thad’s

This past Sunday morning in Los Angeles was bright with strong wind blowing clear air over the mountains from the high desert. The palm trees swayed along Highway 10 west into Santa Monica. Two right turns at the Cloverfield exit took me past the garbage company and into the chain-link gate of Bergamot Station, a former warehouse complex turned into dozens of art studios. In the back corner, in a galvanized iron building, is the “Writer’s Bootcamp”, a complex with offices and meeting spaces, where I found Thad’s.

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From Christian Fundamentalism To An Inclusive Spirituality

On this summer Sunday, Mark Andrew Nouwen shares about his fundamentalist Christian background, which included countless church services and immersing himself in the Christian sub-culture. He shares how, near the end of Bible College, he eventually questioned and then rejected many of the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity. He concludes by sharing a new vision of what Christianity could be today and the beliefs he holds dear.

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