In my first sermon here at Trinity I talked about ‘something new’. This was not just about Kebbeh Cooper’s name (Kebbeh means ‘something new’), it was also about the start of our new ministry together. I was talking about new things and that changes that might happen. I also said that I did not know what those changes might be. I believe and trust in my spiritual gift of intuition. Sometimes God lays thing on my heart as some Christians would phrase this. I might say the Holy Spirit is speaking to me in a loud whisper (how’s that Lutheran for low key spiritual piety). When I discern these things, I think about them and process them and sometimes verbalise them to test the ideas with others. Then I think about them some more.
What are the words that I use to start each worship?
One change that I did in our worship was moving our statement of confession from the ELW book’s traditional placement of confession at the beginning worship. I have thought about this for many years and often wondered that, if we are acting as the invitational congregation that we want to be, is the confession of our sinfulness best placed as the opening statement at Sunday Worship? What if this was my first time coming to church, or my first time coming back to church in a long time? I am not sure the message “welcome sinner” is the right way to start worship. Also confession should not be an implied prerequisite for worship. Hence my theological thinking in this, and following the placement of confession in many Anglican worship services, was to move the confession to as close to Holy Communion as possible.
Moving confession to later in our worship reinforces
that confession is a response to the gospel rather than a prerequisite.
Also by the time we get to confession, we have gathered, proclaimed our worship in song and liturgy, heard God’s Holy Word, prayed for the world and each other … and now we are ready to confess to each other and to God. Following confession and hearing the words of forgiveness, we greet each other in Christ’s peace … and then we taste and see that the Lord is good as we receive forgiveness in the body and blood of Christ.
Should this confession happen every week? Before I came to Trinity I was not convinced that it was a weekly necessity, but I think I am learning something new from the people at Trinity that confession ought to be an essential part of every worship. I intend to honour that new realisation and follow that pattern of weekly confession.
Another change that is coming – a new song book of youth and contemporary songs and hymns that are extra to our cranberry ELW hymnal. This came out of talking with our youth leaders about the services that our youth were leading but has also morphed in Trinity creating a supplement of songs that are most meaningful to all of our ways of expressing our worship of God. New and old songs are essential to our worship.
One other change that I have had laid on my heart, is the placement of our baptismal font. Baptism is the common entry point for all of us to the Christian faith and the engagement of Jesus as our Lord and saviour. In my 17th June sermon I posed the question of ‘Why the baptismal font is not in a central place physical place when baptism is so central to who we are a Christians?’ At our annual meeting yesterday (Sunday 17th February) that very question was raised as we talked about changes to the first two pews to accommodate the new piano and create more space for multiple musicians to engage in leading worship. This idea of moving the font should be a discussion within our congregation. I will write further on this in months to come.
And now the big one … In July 2011 at the ELCIC National Convention several resolutions were passed that changed the ELCIC’s traditional understanding and policies relating to homosexuality. These motions change how that understanding had been applied to church policy so that now the ELCIC allows same sex marriages to be conducted within our congregations. The wording of the motions effectively allows each congregation, with their pastor, to make a local decision whether they will allow same sex marriages or not. Having been at Trinity for almost one year, myself and council feel that it is time for Trinity to consider our position on how we should act on this issue. This is MOST definitely a matter for collective and private study, prayer and conversation.
With that in mind here is how I plan to approach the issue of education and discussion about same sex marriage and the church:
Sunday 24 Feb Publish “Study Booklet – Homosexuality and the Bible”. This document is some of my thoughts on how to approach the subject plus some references to the major biblical passages that reference homosexuality.
Saturday 13 April 2pm
Bible Study – Homosexuality and the bible. This is a chance for an open conversation about our thinking and reflections around this subject.
Sunday 21 April 1:30pm
Dr. Bob Kelly from the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary will be leading a workshop and discussion about the Lutheran tradition of change. This will follow worship and the Stewardship committee’s lunch.
Saturday 11 May 2pm
Open discussion meeting – reflections on our learning’s.
All of this approach is intended to facility discussion, study and prayer about Trinity moving toward making a decision on allowing same sex marriages at Trinity or not. I encourage you to read the study document and participate in the workshop and discussion times. Notice that no date for a meeting to make a decision has been set. That step is for us to make together when we are ready to do so.