worship frustrations

31 August 2008

Are we missing something in church today? This morning I visited a new church with my family, a sister church to the one they usually attend, but let me say, I was not impressed with the worship--if that's what they insist on calling it these days. So many of these contemporary praise songs are all about the singer and his relationship with God, not about God in and of himself. You know those types, don't you? "I will give You all my worship," "You are my first love," "I'm desperate for You"...

Are we actually forgetting God's grace? Our praise songs are more pleading prayers and quick-toss promises than consideration of God's character, his timeless and infinite character. I find much more peace when I remember his unchangeable character than when I reflect on how I treat him. The rather puritannical self-examination these sung statements encourage has me falter through worship time as I consider how my words and behavior just haven't matched this past week and in all likelihood will not match up this week, either. I cannot depend upon myself. My only comfort comes in rehearsing that God will do what he says he will do, that he was, he is, and he will be, that because he says Jesus Christ's sacrifice counts me as righteous, I am righteous. When I think on his grace, I have peace; when I think on me, I have doubts.

Perhaps we should relegate some of these songs to confession time or to prayer time--sung prayers are beautifully communal--but keep those songs that direct our focus to God on high over ourselves as actual worship.

26 August 2008

I am really feeling antsy here on the outskirts of the city where cars and stores and all the interlocking noise and stuff that makes a city exists. I have to get myself into the country.

But that's not easy. Where's a girl like me supposed to find a home with a budget of well...little? I'm working on my resume so that I can start seeking jobs and get the salary part taken care of, but while I do that, I'll apply for part time jobs in this area as well. I have to make do with city-living for a little while yet--dare I say a year or two? (shudder) before I can think about relocating to the country. That is what I will pour myself into now that I am back from Chicago and both Kristen's and Hannah's weddings are behind me--not to mention my UK travels as well.

Discontent is pricking me, I know; I am not satisfied with my suburban lifestyle. But that discontent is goading me to change how I've always lived for something simpler now, something drawn with fewer brush strokes so that the picture declares with strong bold lines the epitome of what it is. I must press on in hope for the future, but, Lord, let me not overlook the present.

I've found this wonderful magazine publication called MaryJane's Farm which encourages readers to delight in the simpler organic things--beit the vegetable garden, the treadle sewing machine, the skillet supper. MaryJane loves the outdoors, so her work provides a path out into the country while I am stuck in the city. You can find her work at www.maryjanesfarm.com.

as long as I'm awake...

06 August 2008

It's nearly six in the morning and I've been up for a couple of hours; the sun's starting to lighten the sky. I like adjusting to the time change from this end better than at the other end. Sometimes I still tell myself what time it is in the UK as if I cannot quite let go of life over there. I suppose that if I were at Hazel's house now, we would be anticipating elevenses and perhaps retiring the poor mower for a much needed break from slicing through all the nettles and thistles and grasses. It feels like I've come from another world.

Yet it feels surprisingly ordinary to be sitting on my bed typing away here in Virginia. I mean, after all that has happened over the summer, life might have felt different returning, but I've rewoven myself seamlessly into the goings on of Chesapeake. The wedding really is coming up; Mom's gotten her preparations down to the details now, details which will flurry over these next two weeks like snow in western Pennsylvania. We visit Vista Point this afternoon in order to iron out the fine points of the reception; I've typed up the guest list in alphabetical order this morning so that the gate guards will better check the guests into the naval base; we've got palms and willows all over the house and half-finished flower arrangements on nearly every counter top and table as Mom experiments (she is doing the arrangements for the wedding); Friday I'll go over to Kris's apartment to help her move most of her things downstairs into Brandon's apartment. She is in the midst of finals, poor thing, but Friday she'll be finished. Everything's coming together, and yet there is still much to do...

The sun is out now and the peachy--purple-ly wash over the sky is fading. I think I'll go start some tea bread for later and fix myself a cup of tea while I'm at it. Over the next few weeks or months I will write more about my trip and what I've learned working on organic farms and about living as a good steward of our resources. It's an exciting time.