I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing

The airways have been filled with a particularly heavy load of bad news.  Human error contributed to some: plane and train wrecks. Political discord contributed to more: violent rioting in Egypt and intrigues and shenanigans in Austin during the special session of the Texas Legislature. Human differences and limitations in opinion and point of view contributed to others, such as actions and reactions to the Florida trial and verdict for the death of Trayvon Martin. Much reflects the dark side of our humanity. In the midst of this, a intriguingly nice snippet surfaced: research has shown that people who sing hymns together…

Christmas Advice Column: Why Sad Christmas Music?

Dear Christmas Advice-Giver, Why are some of the religious Christmas Carols so sad when this is the season of happiness?  I mean, really, “In the Bleak Midwinter?”  Nothing like a downer.  Aren’t we all supposed to be just super joyful right now?  And what does “bleak” mean anyway? Signed, “Bleakless” Dear Bleakless, Here’s the situation:  For much of Christian church history (i.e., before advertising took over the world), the four weeks before Christmas Day were weeks of soul-searching, fasting, and preparation.  The formal name for this time is Advent, which simply means “coming toward.”  So, we are “coming toward” the entrance of…

Mystery Worship Eleven: A Missed Opportunity

Note:  this is part of an ongoing series.  Mystery Worship One is here;  Mystery Worship Two is here; Mystery Worship Three is here. Four is here. Five is here. Six is here. Seven is here. Eight is here. Nine is here. Ten is here. On my first Sunday back in Texas, I decided to attend an Orthodox Church for my Mystery Worship time. With some research for preparation, I discovered that the Orthodox Church considers itself the only true church, and is not in communion with other Christian groups.  Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Communion are expected to have made a confession in the presence of an Orthodox…

Mystery Worship Ten: Redeemer Presbyterian

Note:  this is part of an ongoing series.  Mystery Worship One is here;  Mystery Worship Two is here; Mystery Worship Three is here. Four is here. Five is here. Six is here. Seven is here. Eight is here. Nine is here. For Mystery Worship Ten, I choose Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. This church, begun in 1989 by a group of 15, had recently moved into its first permanent home ever.  About 4500 people worship weekly at Redeemer now–with six different Sunday services. At this link, you will find the history of this church. Multiple greeters in the airy and light reception area welcomed me and directed me…

Mystery Worship Nine: A Tortuous Hour

Note:  this is part of an ongoing series.  Mystery Worship One is here;  Mystery Worship Two is here; Mystery Worship Three is here. Four is here. Five is here. Six is here. Seven is here. Eight is here. With a generous invitation from my nephew, who has also moved to the UK,  to spend several days in the gorgeous Cotswolds village of Burford (about 23 miles east of Oxford), I was delighted on my first view of High Street to see a Methodist Church–and immediately chose it for Mystery Worship Nine. The building, baroque style of Cotswold stone, had been built around 1715 as a private house, and was converted…