A Lament

It was the usual Carols at our church on Sunday night.

If you’re looking for something positive, I’m about to start whingeing, though with some purpose.

1) On lyrical changes that don’t scan properly, and otherwise just completely wreck the whole experience

I have been continually saddened every time I hear “O come now, o come now to Bethlehem”.

Now, “Hark the herald angels sing” is my all-time favourite carol and quite possibly Christian song ever. Nevertheless, it was not safe from the PC patrol:

Instead of “Pleased as Man with man to dwell”, which captures the fact that God was indeed ‘tabernacling’ with man, we have “Please in human flesh to dwell”. One could step into various heresies off that foot, such as the one where God is merely inhabiting the shell of a human.

They also screwed up verse 3, but I don’t have the adjusted lyrics with me.

2) Observations that become revelation

A few weeks ago, it was suggested to me that I should look into 2 problems:

  1. How to get the reach the various, possibly sparsely interconnected social networks of the congregation at 5pm
  2. Taking better care of singles in an almost entirely married population

Now, there weren’t a lot of people from our congregation at Carols, not that I could see anyway, who were not doing something else already (like being a singer, muso, somehow otherwise involved with the actual performance). I knew this, because 5pm was tasked with helping out with supper. This ended up being mostly the work of about 5 – 8 of us. The question becomes, where was everybody? What were they doing? Was the opportunity to have a relaxing Sunday too good to pass up? The mind boggles, but I guess we’ll find out next week.

Of the people from 5pm who turned up was one man, who I shall not name, who is a very introverted computer geek. At the start of carols, he clearly didn’t know where to sit, probably because he couldn’t see anyone he knew in the large crowd. I myself hadn’t setup a position, but then I was occupied in the kitchen or kitchen related duties for pretty much the whole night, and when I was not, I was on miscreant patrol (aka ‘security’). On one of my security strolls, I saw him leaving. I asked if he was well and he said he was cold and left quite quickly. I think I know that that excuse was but a part of the true reason he did not stay. It saddened me greatly to see him leave, and added to the lament that I was forming in my mind and is here for you today.

For you see, a greater sense of ownership is required amongst the congregation. For the next times I’m up leading the service, I think I will try to encourage a change of thinking. Personally, I know a part of me wants to scream at everyone, but I know some people have genuine reasons. Which is why you have to go for the heart. It’s going to be a task for me to bring about a sense of church. People don’t chat theologically, even vaguely about the sermon just said. The patterns people follow are to talk about the weekend. I myself need to change that. Hearing a good sermon that actually stimulates my thinking would be a good start. That’s about 50% of the time (don’t ask. I’ll get even more whingy.) The seems depressingly big, but I think with the right prompts, a good nudge, and a loud wake-up call, things will get moving. People will take little things seriously. People will not feel alone at church.

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