Liturgy, Part 2: Unity and Music

21 September 2008

The second in a series of papers on liturgical matters, Unity and Music: Five Hills to Die On addresses five specific areas of concern as our church tries to find its way, musically speaking. It starts out like this…

One of the worst things about Christians is our tendency to feel that because everything is a matter of principle, everything is equally important. Consequently, we often waste time and resources fighting over trivial things when there are really serious issues in play. Nowhere is this more true than in church music. I have, to my considerable shame, been a combatant in some really stupid arguments over Read the rest of this entry »


Matthew 18:15-17: Who are the Witnesses?

14 September 2008

In the pagan world, when one person wrongs another, the first step is often to involve third parties: friends, a coworker, the boss, a lawyer, etc. In serious cases, the first step may be to take the offender to court. If either party is unsatisfied with the outcome of the court case, then the unsatisfied party can appeal to a higher court, and so on, until the Supreme Court gives a final ruling. In that system at its best, the goal is justice. For offenses among believers, however, Jesus instructs us in a different procedure and a different goal. In Matthew 18, Jesus establishes the pattern for a believer to follow when one of his Christian brothers has sinned against him. He says,

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

The procedure seems clear enough. When some brother Christian offends you, there are four steps. We might think of these as a lower court, an appeals court, the (earthly) supreme court for Christian conflict resolution, and a final judgment. Read the rest here.

The Weight of Glory

6 June 2008

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing…to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. Read the rest of this entry »