Sunday, July 06, 2008

Don't Tell the Rector

Today's service was an excellent example of worship. We had memorable lessons, from the story of Rebekah and Isaac's "marriage," and St. Paul's battle of the way of the flesh vs. the way of the spirit, to Jesus in Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Fr. Dunbar filling in for our Rector who is on vacation, put together a very good sermon from the reading of Romans 7:15-25a, and Matthew. He reminded us to see things with the eyes of a child, to allow our imaginations to help us surrender our burdens to Jesus.

Now this is the part that we mustn't tell the rector. We finished the service with a "National" Hymn (1982 Hymnal #717-My country 'tis of thee... ). It is not often that we are allowed to sing any of these hymns that have been pushed to the last pages of the Episcopal Hymnal. How could it have slipped through and gotten included in the service music? When the cat's away the mice will play. Well, at least we didn't process with the American flag.

There was a little problem in that the Gospel reading for today was another expurgated version (who does this lectionary meddling anyway?).
We listened to the spliced together version as commanded. There is no indication in the printed bulletin of where the splice occurs. Did anyone else notice that Matthew 11:19-24 got left out. It adds to the context, but it may be troubling to hear Jesus speak in this threatening manner (if justice is a threat). Here is the missing text with verse 25 included so that you can understand the splice:
"20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."

I can imagine a "wise and prudent" (v. 25) Episcopal Church scholar thinking "Well, that must have been a later addition to the text, and it would flow much better into those little minds of mush if we just leave that part out. Besides, we don't want our Rectors to have to explain what happened to Sodom; we don't teach that at seminary anymore."

I am but a child at all this religious stuff, and that's how I see it.


  1. #717 (through some quirk of the editors of the 1982 Hymnal) is called a National "Song". Does that make it a "non-hymn" even though it is in a hymnal?
    (See my post on the National "Anthem")

  2. Anonymous3:44 PM

    By the way those hymns weren't 'pushed' to the back of the hymnal they were put there because they are not really Episcopal nor designed for our normal worship. And guess what else, we always sing them on the Sunday closest to July 4th. And if you're in the mind to put down our rector while he's away... don't. Only the cowardly speak ill of those who are not in attendance. Please have respect. Thank-you

  3. And what makes a hymn "Episcopal?"

  4. Of course, references to uncomfortable things like judgment and hell tend to weaken the continual references to the "God of Love" which lets us stay out late but still gives us our allowance and a pat on the head. Yet, mercy and grace have no meaning without the concepts of sin and judgment.


  5. As to the missing verses, I am reminded of the official parish website of a few years past, which no longer exists because a few parishioners objected to the word "Sodom" and its various derivatives. Has censorship traveled from the parish up to the national church, or vice versa?

  6. Someone needs to advise the curate that we do not espouse "open" Communion. Her invitation for all to join at the table is a liberal innovation and flies in the face of accepted Anglican polity. The service bulletin contains a more accurate invitation, offering Communion to all "baptized Christians."

  7. Dear John, (I always wanted to write that)
    I am glad you mentioned the open communion invitation that was presented by our curate. This is a good topic for discussion. I remember Billy Ockham had this to say about it last year. There are links to an Episcopal Life Online discussion which provides diferring points of view on the subject. I heard the open communion call as you did, thanks for the reminder.

  8. For some reason the links did not work. Here it is in long hand for pasting into your browser.



  9. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Thank you Underground Pewster - you see, I must now confess - I made a bet with my spouse - I bet that you would not like at least one if not all of the following - the sermon, at least one of the readings, at least one member of our clergy and have a caustic comment about the music - and guess what - I WON!!!!!

  10. Somehow, I thought the point of this blog was to critique. If they ever managed to get everything as it should be, there would be no need to critique.

  11. Anonymous12:17 PM

    There is a huge difference between a critique and down right nasty. Now that folks are betting on the comments - it has decended into the catagory of a joke - there is a song in Bambi that we all should remember more often - "If you can't say something nice.... ssshhh.... say nothing!"

  12. Dear Anon, our motto is "Service with a Smile."
    Now you have laid down a guantlet, by that I mean we will have to keep an eye out for the Grand "Slam" (Sermon, Lessons, Apostates (clergy or lay), and Music).

    The blog arose from an earlier attempt by a former parishoner to have an on-line dialog on issues relating to the church, local and national. There was also opportunity to discuss the sermons. This comment box style of that site was initially linked to the ECOOS web page, but due to the honest opinions expresed in some of the comments, the site was banned. When the founding parishoner relocated, this blog was formed for the refugees and was opened to the public. My opinion is that some people talk to their spouses about the sermons and services in hushed secrecy. "We musn't let the neighbors know what we really think," is a less healthy way of dealing with religion than an open dialog. But, when open dialog is actively suppressed by the Church Police, I had to take it underground.
    You have to love the Church. For 2000 years they have been trying to "get it right." The material for bloggers to chew on will never cease. That is because something fantastic happened 2000 years ago and we've been arguing about it ever since.

  13. Dear U.P..........

    Illegitimi non carborundum.

  14. Anonymous12:22 PM

    Sorry John, my parents were married when I was born....