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Musings on Noah October 15, 2007

Posted by Andy in Recent Sermons.
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Genesis chapter 6 is a dismal episode. Sin has been spreading outward like ripples on a pond and now we reach the point where the whole earth is full of violence. But it’s interesting that even at this point of uninhibited evil and sinfulness, a chink of the light of God’s grace can be detected. Enter Noah! He embodies an alternative possibility. He is the hope for a new beginning. He is the one who acts as a bridge between what has passed and what God will restore.

But this and other stories throw up some interesting issues worth exploring. What’s the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human freedom? Did God know before he created the world that his creation would turn from him or did it come as a shock to him to have to contemplate blotting it out and starting again? Is God inside or outside of time, or both? 

I struggle with the idea of ‘process theology’ and elements of  ‘open theology’ which believe that God doesn’t know how things will turn out one day to the next. But there is a sense in which in Genesis we see a God who is impacted by the consequences of human activity. At the sight of such widespread evil, he is grief-stricken and experienced heart-felt pain. Perhaps it’s too far a stretch to say that God is vulnerable but, nevertheless, he is certainly not an aloof, static figure. Mmmm, much to ponder!

The language of worship October 9, 2007

Posted by Andy in Reflections on Ministry.
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scan00011.jpgThis This is a scan of a print-out that my printer spewed at me the other day. It was used as part of a Communion service. There must have been a problem with the cartridge because it wasn’t supposed to come out with each line repeated beneath. But it made me stop and think about other times of repetition in services. I can usually cope with a bit of repetition in songs or hymns so long as the language used is primarily focussed on the work of God in Christ rather than on my response. I find it hard to engage in ‘worship times’ that amount to 20 minutes of singing about how I feel about God because I soon get bored of singing about what I need to do and want to focus back on who God is and what He has done.

I wonder what the meaning of some of our worship songs is really all about. For example, the words ‘I surrender all’ or ‘give you everything’. Are they expressing a statement of actuality or intent? Is it truly realistic that we will be able to completely ‘surrender all’ and ‘give God everything’ in our currently imperfect, often sinful lives? Or is the purpose of the words a way of articulating our desire to become more like Christ and yet fully aware of our constant failure to do so completely? Maybe, on this basis, this is where repetitive choruses come into play because they provide space for us to reflect on what we are singing as we are singing it. So often it is so easy to pass over words in sung worship without realising the power they hold.