Give us our Sundays back

Taking back Sunday

On the weekend just past, I was told by not one, but two elderly gentlemen, that people are just spending Sunday like Saturday, a day off work when one can get done the recreational desires of our heart.

There are sports competitions on Sunday, shops are open on Sunday, many of us are expected to work on Sunday. Indeed, if one does intend to have a relaxing Sunday you often get looked down upon as lazy. Darned protestant work ethic.

I’ve never been one to take the 4th commandment overly literally, I’ve had to work Sundays many times before amongst other things. I have a friend whose family took it very seriously, not washing clothes or mowing lawns on a Sunday as God has told us to rest. Let’s have a fresh look at the text:

Exodus 20:8-11

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

So that’s pretty clear, God says “honour me” by resting on Sunday. So why don’t we do it? What has changed in the last 20 years that encourages or forces people to labour on Sundays? Is it just the increasing secularisation of our society, it it the increasing multiculturalisation of our society? Is it just we Christians are becoming less legalistic and more liberal in our interpretation of previously accepted commands?

I just know that when I was told people don’t spend time resting and contemplating God on the sabbath I was a) having a picnic in a park and b) worshiping God in church. Maybe more people should behave in that manner, but I don’t think we need to enforce people who follow other religions (or even no religion) to rest on Sunday – many industries provide services for the rest of us at that time and for that I am thankful.

More music theology discussion

Bass guitar pickup

While preparing for music tonight at church I came across a page over on the Garage Hymnal website: Papers on Church music

They put a link on their front page to these papers as a thought out response to the articles in the Briefing and ensuing debate about whether evangelical churches should play Hillsong music.

I must say it is a better and more thought out article than the one I struggled to write and encourage you to read it. Another good article is Andy Judd’s Case study of questionable lyrics in which the author explains what to look for when evaluating a new song. One of the good points for me is where he reflects on “Shout to the Lord”:

That said, I think there are reasons why you might not sing the song every week. The final example is the statement that “Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand”. Carmichael identifies this as an Arminian view, a “personal guarantee” to Jesus that we’ll be there for him. This is interesting, because it could just as easily be read as a Calvinist affirmation of the perseverance of the saints (perhaps echoing 2 Peter 1:10 or something). Forever I will love Jesus – because I am one of the elect! Church songs are, after all, to be sung by the saints. But to be honest I doubt anyone sings that line either with particularly Arminian or Calvinistic thoughts in mind. We don’t think about it. It’s just a wishy washy line of good intentioned sentimental feeling, and so for me the second half of the chorus is a little too vague to be helpful. It’s not so much wrong as disappointing.

Also the conclusions at the end of “Why church playing is important” PDF link are encouraging.

Thanks

“What do you say to a musician who has done a really good job?” someone asked me recently. You don’t want to build their ego’s. But encouragement is a great blessing in a church. Personally, what I’d find most encouraging after spending hours battling to get everyone in tune and in time is “thanks, I found singing together tonight really encouraging”.

Prayer

If you are not starting your band practices with a time of prayer and sharing you need to. I know music teams who spend 30 mins together talking about their lives and praying for the service every week. Not a second of that is wasted.

Singing along

I remember playing in a band at KCC recently and having Willow (the sound guru) come up to us and thank us for singing along while we played. Apparently everyone found it encouraging. We didn’t notice, because we were so caught up in the words which we’d played a thousand times but never sang past verse 2 until then. Try it! (flautist are excused, reluctantly).

Take some time off

Everyone should have at least one week off every month. Our church barely has enough musos to make a full band (let alone two or three), so we just have heaps scaled back music on the fourth Sunday of every month. I’m prepared to have no singing (or use backing tracks/organ) if it means giving the musos a break.

Headphones: Alessandro MS-1

Alessandro MS-1

Just arrived off the boat from the USA, a new pair of headphones. I got the tip to purchase these particular ones from a website recommended by a workmate – Headphones.com.au. They are based in Perth and have some great info and guidance about different brands and types of personal audio gear.

I didn’t buy from them, however, as the current strong Australian dollar made a very strong argument for buying directly from the manufacturer, Alessandro High-End Products. And so, a week later, here they are.

Various online reviewers and audiophiles say that these are great headphones, especially for the money. They are basically a Grado Labs SR-80 or SR-125 with different internals, drivers, cables, as specified by Alessandro.

I’ve never had a really good pair of headphones before but I am so impressed by these cans. Great sound reproduction, good volume, comfortable. Remembering that these headphones are open (you can hear what’s going on around you and people nearby can hear what you are listening to, if they try) and reasonably unsubtle to wear, they are great for listening at home, or on a walk, but you might get strange looks from people on the train.

Does anyone else have a great set of headphones? I was previously looking for some Sennheiser HD555 headphones and I know other people like Beyerdynamic and the like, so tell me, what are your favourite headphones? Brand, style, sound, please share.

Footy tipping

Tipping Comps

Just wanted to say I managed to tip the round last weekend in the NRL. Managed to do it by myself in both my workplace and family competitions.

I was having an ordinary season prior to that point so I’m happy to claim it as a fluke.

That said my performance was helped by the great form of the Panthers, coming from way behind to beat the Broncos in extra time. And how good was the Canberra team actually showing up and providing some unpredictability to the season.

I imagine my performance will return to the regular 3-5 out of 8 games this weekend. But it was nice to be on top while it lasted.

Easter more important than Christmas

Manger to Cross

Easter is this weekend. Like most Christian “holidays” it is unlikely that it is actually the anniversary of the weekend Jesus died and rose again, merely the week we celebrate or remember that event. The origin of the word ‘Easter’ is from the same word that gives us ‘oestrogen’ and is a pointer back to the original celebration of this weekend, the first full moon of spring, celebrating fertility. That is why we have rabbits and eggs this weekend, symbols of fertility and new life.

I guess I should call it ‘passion week’ to bring the focus back to Jesus, but people still have Christ in Christmas and have little knowledge of Him at that time, so I doubt it is significant.

God created the world and created humans to live in harmony with him. But He gave people free will, to choose to love Him. But inevitably we sinned and rejected God. God could have wiped out the human race at that point and started all over again, but instead He decided to save us. He chose to save us from the punishment due to us for our rebellion from God, and from the need to continue to sin, to punish ourselves.

He did this through Jesus, his death and resurrection. When you mention the man Jesus, you are implying the event we celebrate as Christmas – when Jesus came into the world. He then spent time here on earth, growing up, being in a family, in a community, in a church. Then he spent time teaching, healing and performing the occasional miracle. He spent a lot of time rebuking those in the church who were bringing shame to God and leading his people astray. Then came the time for which God became man – the crucifixion.

On the cross Jesus became the one true sacrifice. He took the punishment we deserve on the cross, and died. We can live freely in the knowledge that sin holds no fear for us. The Jesus rose again, overcoming death starting life eternal. In this manner we too can be reborn into eternity.

So, Jesus purpose in coming was two fold:

  • To reveal God to us.
  • To take away the sins of the world.

If he only did the former, life would still be ruled by the old covenant, sacrifices would be a daily, weekly and yearly ritual and the only way we could know God is through his writings, the Bible. This is all Jesus would have achieved if we had Christmas and not Easter.

But the latter is the reason for Easter and hence, the reason for Christmas, Jesus’ entry into our world. He came to live so that he might die, having done amazing things in the interim. So Easter is the most important time in a Christians year. It is when we truly face our own sin and inadequacy, our need for salvation rather than just a desire to know God.

This weekend I hope people think about the reason Jesus died, our sinfulness. I hope they realise the cost that had to be paid for our sake. I hope they turn away from sin, towards God, in thankfulness. I hope they will see God on judgement day with gladness, not dread.