Monday, September 5, 2016

The Dissection of a Service

Halfway through the church service in the Begijnhof I felt a bit like analyzing the program. I looked down. I looked up.  I looked all around. Why not? I asked myself. So be it: an analysis of the Sunday Service last week as per the program.

The program said: Call to Worship and Approach to God

Considering the approach, a yellow brick road perhaps, the question departed from within, “But wasn’t God already present?”  Is God present when I am not present? Is God removed from bonding? Is God as such, to my mind and body, an extension or process of proprioception?  Is God that far away? Am I in the wrong place?

Yet the answer soon came, further down on the paper:

The program said (congregation replies in bold)

The God of heaven has made a home on earth;

Christ dwells among us and is one with us.

The highest in all creation lives among the least;

Christ journeys with the rejected and welcomes the weary.

Come now all who wander in the wilderness

And be led by God your liberator.

Come now all who seek

And be filled with good things.


Communion was imminent; guilt implied (if not already sustained). I never get the wilderness part and I don’t like camping enough to even consider hiking someplace remote. Dire sin aside, first up Hymn 128 “How shall I sing that majesty?”

First verse (text J. Mason):

How shall I sing that majesty
which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
thy throne, O God most high;
ten thousand times ten thousand sound
thy praise; but who am I?

That’s not the wilderness?

The program said: Prayer

During this section I began to ruminate on what I could possibly say about myself to someone I know who didn’t particularly understand my needs. I could feel myself get a little irritated. I started to understand that this was also a form of prayer, this surmising of hostility with equal hostility. The congregation recited the Lord’s Prayer.  I know it by heart. Suddenly I wanted to learn a different poem by heart.  I always do this, I think I never learn poems by heart but it is not true, I memorize lyrics to songs all the time.  I just don’t recit them much without singing.  What poem could I learn by heart?  Maybe I should take a poll of my friends on FB.

Or I could simply choose something on my own.  Like a big girl, no primary ground clearance needed.

The program said:  The word of God

Presentation to the Sunday School and Junior Church, and introduction to today’s Scripture theme

A small group of just barely rolling into the teen years boys were presented with the Authentic Youth Bible, the teal colored version. Authentic Youth Bible?  I looked it up.  The Authentic Youth Bible features: 164 pages of additional Bible study material, 24 colour topic based inserts covering subjects such as relationships, peer pressure and trusting God, 275 'Insights' help explain the meaning and context of key passages, translation specifically designed to be read and understood easily, suitable to be used across all denominations.

I eyed the volume, from afar safe within my pew, with suspicion.  I have always been suspicious of Sunday School. I never attended Sunday School or read youth bibles, authentic or not. By the way what does the non-authentic youth bible have to say? Somehow deep inside I feel I should read a children’s Bible and make up for lost time, and implant grade A bare bones under my insecure skin. 

The program said: First Lesson Philemon 1-21 (New Testament)

Right off the bat, the English pronunciation of Philemon threw me.  Mainly because I only know the French version from having sung a duet out of Gounod’s “Baucis et Philemon,” a very under represented opera. What, I wondered, was the King James version of this text, because so far, not so good with the deliverance of goods.

I looked it up and realized that the word “bowels” in the King James was more than once replaced by “heart” in the modern version.

The program said: Music in worship “Now Beseech we” by D. Buxtehude.

Buxtehude pretty much set down a great spicy argument among old men into music.

The program said: Second Lesson Luke 14: 25 – 27

The ending came about as, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Again, I just had to look up the King James version, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

I personally feel there is a great difference between the two.  I feel more prone to bowels and bear than heart and carry. Just putting in my two cents here.

The program said: Sermon

It all boiled down to How to Liberate from Slavery? Apply the Christian fantasy of the body and blood of Christ.

And then it was time for Communion. After a month of deliberation and by consensus of the congregation, the children were allowed to take communion for the first time. They opted for the alcoholic wine in mini beakers and happily chinked each other in front of the altar.

To end it all we sang a rousing rendition of “God the Father of Creation” and left the premises for the tourists to view the building.

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