This resonated with me...

"We got our recent custom of using individual glasses at Communion from Scotch (sic) Presbyterians and others who, in order to recover the meal at the Lord's Supper, gave a communicant a glass of wine and a small bun, seated the congregations at tables, and had a meal which looked and tasted like a meal. The custom of using individual pressed white tasteless wafers is an extension of medieval preoccupations with the bread as a holy, untouched, spotless portion of Christ's body. Over the years both the glasses and the wafers got smaller until the church seemed to have a make-belief meal without food...

I finally said, 'enough is enough; a couple of years ago when I read of a man in the West, who, believing that the Lord's Supper is time consuming and cumbersome because of the individual cups involved, has begun marketing a product for those in a hurry. He produces airtight packets which contain a crackerlike pellet in once compartment and two grams of grape juice in another compartment -- a disposable, self-contained, eat-on-the-run Lord's Supper -- sort of "This my body packaged for you." There you have it. The last hindrance to totally self-contained, self-centered religion is removed.... Now thanks to this unit packaging, we need never come into contact with or be touched by another human being again. Just when you thought modern life had depersonalized the gospel to the uttermost, we have another breakthrough--Communion without communion!" Bishop Bill Willimon, in Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord's Supper, by Ben Witherington

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Excerpted from Rock On, by Dan Kennedy .... Read it, and then substitute all the rock references with church, lead pastor, and worship lead/band references...

"Okay, look up at the huge screen at the end of the conference room. A ten-years-too-late Eddie Vedder look-alike stealing Jim Morrison's moves. And a bassist and guitarist who move in a way that seems to be saying, 'Yes, you learned lead singer moves in our local college's night class on how to be a rock star, but never forget that while you were doing that, we were studying how to posture ourselves properly as well, and we have jst as important a role as you. See we indicate that we're passionate about the guitar playing in the band.' There's daning, pouting, and these bored and angry mood swings that seem to say, ' We're angry. No, we're sexy. No, we're bored. Wait, we're angry again. How now we're longing! We are, in face, feeling everything you could posssibly want us to feel -- But no matter what we're feeling, we're rocking.'

I have a hunch that everyone here knows that this band's biggest problem is that they're not so much authentic as they're trying to indicate to you that they are authentic. We sit there smiling politely and watching."

Make you think a little? It did me.

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We deserved it.

First this...

This has been rocking my world for a few days now, and a lot of my friends as well. For some reason, it has struck a chord; it's almost worse than some kind of sexual scandal (for what reason, I'm not sure - still processing through that).

But I quickly landed on an interesting position:

we deserved it.

"We" meaning the church. Full disclosure: I'm a church worker (surprise); furthermore, I'm a church worker who stands on a stage each week, mostly with a guitar in hand, and tries to get people to remember the saving acts of Yahweh, their God. I've worked at one of the largest churches in the world, and at some of the smallest ones.

For years, church "worship culture" (does this sound like insane vocabulary to anyone out there besides me?) has been in ascendancy. Vineyard, Hosanna, and Maranatha laid the groundwork in the 1980s, and then Passion, SonicFlood, and Hillsong blew the doors off in the 1990s, making the worship of God pretty big business.

I'm not questioning motives. I've had the privilege of meeting some of the "names" in worship leading, and most of them are really great guys. But in the meantime, we -- the Christian, "Big C" church -- created a machine. This machine feeds good music to a lot of churches across the world, but unfortunately there are by-products to this that I believe are utterly unavoidable and mostly negative.

It's just this: should worship be based on the particular remembrance of a particular community of people of God's activity in their midst? Should worship be localized and intimate? Or should it be broadcast as a mirror image of pop culture, fed from the far off lands of Nashville, Australia, and Orange County?

Because if worship is going to be business, franchised out from the musical mega-centers, then the ramifications of a failure like this will spend tremors around the world. If worship music is going to be severed from relationship (unlike shepherding and discipleship, thank God), then we have to be prepared for failures.

What would I advocate in its place? Partly I'm not sure. I think in evangelical culture we've already "swallowed the pill". We assemble worship sets from iTunes "Top 10 Worship Songs" lists; from the latest release from SixSteps, most of the time without asking the deeper questions of what our community needs. Do we need this song? What about an ancient (maybe just pre 1970?) prayer?

Sometimes I fear that the "Traditional" (is that a bad word) churches may be on to something. The main line churches, who evangelicals have snickered at behind closed doors, worship in intimacy and "smallness" (some of them by necessity, as their congregations have shrunk away, stolen by the new mega church down the street). If an artist -- or even a pastor -- stumbles and falls in their community, the damage is truly no less severe, but reconciliation can occur in the way it was always intended to -- in relationship. Those who've been effected by the lack of integrity of a TV evangelist, or a youth pastor in Australia have no recourse, and God the Father takes the hit most of the time.

Years ago, we (the evangelicals) decided to dance with the devil, and decided to have our worship governed by celebrities. Most of the time, we've reaped benefits of great songwriting and new visions for musical worship. But we've also set up a system now that trades relationship for excellence, and so when one of us weak and frail individuals fall, we now shake whole systems of churches.

Can we return to smallness? Can we return to local artists struggling through "C+" songs, rather than purchasing the "A+" one from iTunes?

I really don't know. I think we like it here.

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It DOES make a difference…

And now a bulletin from the ultimately useless department.

A few months ago I decided to invest some money into some CDs that I really enjoy. I’d heard rumors from some respected musicians (Buddy Miller for one) that there is a significant difference in the listening experience between CD and mp3 (or mp4 or any other type of compression-focused music). I hadn’t really believed in it: to my mind, most of the folks making this claim seemed to be portly, middle-aged men with six-figure incomes who really enjoyed spending their weekends combing record stores for obscure vinyl.

But I decided to give it a try; I picked one of my favorite CDs (Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) that I’d purchased through iTunes (note: not downloaded illegally), and brought it home.


There were guitar parts that weren’t “there” in the iTunes version; a richness to the vocals that had completely flown over my head.

My resolution is to now keep on this course and replace my “iTunes only” CDs that I really enjoy with CD versions (not audiophile enough for vinyl… yet). For the musos out there: try it, you’ll be blown away.

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