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Monthly eBulletin- Music in Sacred Community

There is nothing like that feeling of the heart soaring when music touches the soul. And knowing the deep place the music can descend into our psychology, isn’t it our responsibility to approach it with caution and a critical mind? Music teaches us about who we are and can evoke feelings in us we didn’t know were there. Doesn’t music in sacred community, then, need to also be sacred, relevant, and inspiring?

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Four Yogas in the Life of Church

Sometimes issues need to be reframed, and it can often be helpful to look outside one’s own tradition for a framework. So for those who may be struggling with similar misunderstandings in their congregations, I offer the Four Yogas as a lens through which to see things differently.

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The Power of WE

Compassionate Activism for Global Healing: New Thought is a spiritually motivated way of life that embraces the ancient wisdom traditions of east and west. We embody the belief that consciousness is elementally creative, reciprocates thought, and thereby shapes all manifestation. Our principles reflect a universal conviction that the community of all life is sacred; our practices of meditation and prayer enhance a worldview promoting reverence for, and service to humanity and planet earth. New Thought is committed to global healing through personal transformation, community-building, interfaith, intercultural, and interdisciplinary understanding, and compassionate activism.

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A Funeral Service (At the Crematorium)

Each birth causes us to wonder
where the spark of life comes from.
Every death makes us wonder
what of that life survives.

What we have done, and who we have been,
remains part of the wider universe long after we are gone.

None of us knows the whole truth about what lies beyond death.
Christians believe that as we journey between life and death,
we are safe in the hands of an infinitely gracious God.

What we do know and believe is that every human life,
with a mind to think and a heart to love,
is an expression of the creative spirit of God.

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Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations

Spiritual maverick Matthew Fox believes that through the ages religious patriarchal hierarchy and rigidity have obscured Christianity’s most beneficial and essential teachings: those that arise out of personal, mystical experiences of the Divine. A true religious renewal, according to Fox, can arise only through the mystical dimension of faith. In Christian Mystics, he offers a wide-ranging collection of quotations from Christianity’s greatest mystics and prophets of the past two thousand years. Fox explores and celebrates the mystical path with insightful commentary on the thoughts and revelations of some of history’s greatest religious visionaries.

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Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile

An important and respected voice for liberal American Christianity for the past twenty years, Bishop John Shelby Spong integrates his often controversial stands on the Bible, Jesus, theism, and morality into an intelligible creed that speaks to today’s thinking Christian. In this compelling and heartfelt book, he sounds a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather than blind faith, on love rather than judgment, and that focuses on life more than religion.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Church Music

The lyrics of the hymns and praise and worship songs of the church are, outside of the Bible, the way most people establish their belief system, which is reflected in the way they think about and live their faith. The lyrics may be good or bad, perceptive or trite, and may or may not teach sound theological concepts. Christians should carefully consider what they are singing because it shapes their theological perspective whether they realize it or not.

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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 in Sacred Community

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” So wrote the famed philosopher, Nietzsche. I believe that music in sacred community is the medium which allows us to feel and to express our deepest emotions: joy, lament, awe and thanksgiving. Music in sacred community binds us together. Studies have shown that groups who make music together feel a certain kinship with each other, and leave that time of singing or drumming, playing instruments, etc. with their endorphins dancing, and their bodies humming with better health and vibrations. Surely when all of this is enhanced by words of hymns or songs, we can know that we have participated in a rich experience which has fed our souls.

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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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