Worship and current events

To those who will be leading worship tomorrow: to what extent will current events in the Middle East affect your services (and especially your sermons)? Will you change what you were going to say, or will it be largely "business as usual", with world events being mentioned only - if at all - in your intercessory prayers? How much, do you think, should "external" events impinge on our worship?

Comments

  • Well, I can't speak for the preacher, but I'm leading the intercessions tomorrow, and will certainly include some reference to current events (checking the news before leaving home...).

    As a general rule, I think external events should impinge on our worship, in the sense of informing our prayers.

    IJ
  • But would it lead you to change the readings and sermon, too?
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    For me, I would be very reluctant to change the readings. I try to allow the gospel message to transform my (and hopefully our) reaction to those events. I'm just finishing tomorrow's sermon which I hope allows the timeless Word of God speak to the horrific realities of the world just now. To tinker with the lectionary is not just a no-no because of liturgical preciousness, it implies that I know better than God what words to speak to our situation.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    PS: not of course because God directly authorises the Church of England lectionary, but because it's a more objective standard than our individual interpretation. And Easter is the truth beside which all other lesser truths are judged.
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    I have some emergency sermon notes for this sort of thing - ever since I was caught out - Princess Diana died and I hadn't seen the news are wondered why the church was full.
  • angloid wrote: »
    Easter is the truth beside which all other lesser truths are judged.
    Yes!

  • And the rest of what Angloid said re the readings....mind you, I also take Leo's point about being aware of what's happening/happened, and making suitable adjustments if required.

    IJ
  • It has to be something really earth-shaking for me to go off planned script. The last time was Trump's election victory.
  • I saw the Quakers go 'off script' after Trump's election victory ...

    I was at a residential thingy at a Quaker study centre at the time.

    Hopefully without causing offence, may I ask, Eutychus, why you don't consider there to be a problem having a set script for your sermons but you somehow consider having one for worship (and yes, sermons are part of worship of course) as a big no-no?

    I'm not trying to score points or catch you out, I'm just curious.

    If it's such a nefarious and disempowering thing to determine songs and orders of service in advance, then why prepare a sermon? Why not wait for the Spirit to lead ...?
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited April 2018
    I think there's a pretty good precedent a) for every-member ministry b) preaching.

    When it comes to sustained investigation of the Bible for empowerment, the place to come at our church is the Bible study. Anyone can lead this (and I mean anyone), and they are encouraged to ask open rather than closed questions.

    I've considered a more participatory approach to the preaching bit (a church an hour or so from us whose pastor is the product of our church Sunday school is currently experimenting with it), but I think it would quickly get unmanageable above about ten people, whereas experience tells me that every-member worship participation works pretty well up to a hundred or so.
  • sabinesabine Shipmate
    Both my Quaker Meeting and my Mennonite Church go off script on an as needed basis. Sadly, it's been needed too often for upsetting reasons in the last few years.

    Sometimes there is also an emergency Sunday School class for adults.

    Spiritual rapid response.
  • What does 'every member ministry' look like?

    My wife is quite introverted. She's happy to play the organ because she's up in the organ loft and no-one can see her. She's happy to be part of a choir and helps out with one in a parish a few miles north of here from time to time. She doesn't want to do anything demonstrative or too 'upfront' in a service. Is she not engaging in 'every member ministry'?

    I used to pray long extemporary prayers with the best of them - quite florid South Walian hwyl at times. People appreciated it. Was it for my benefit, God's benefit or theirs?

    I'm not sure.

    Your experience and your particular skills as a church leader may be different, but I'm not sure what 'every member ministry' means in a gathering of around 100 people or so. They can't all have their say.

    If it's a Bible study or similar small group exercise then yes.
  • I'm not expecting everyone to have their say. I'm working on encouraging many-hued contributions and people realising that they can build others up that way. Sure we get a few bumps in the road, but it seems to work.
  • Not a global event, but I was once called upon to lead worship the week after a young couple and their unborn child had been killed in a plane crash. It was the week after Easter, and you can bet that my prayers and sermon were coloured by the recent events.
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    I attend a US Episcopal parish where I frequently want to pull my hair out because current events are almost never mentioned during the service. I think they don't make it into the Prayers of the People on most Sundays because of absent-mindedness and not any willful decision to leave them out. And I have no expectation that current events would have any effect on the readings, if that were even allowed. But I think that some mention of those current events that are urgent and inescapable, when there are such events, should occur during the sermon, especially when there is a logical link between them and the lectionary readings. Also, when the lectionary readings touch upon an issue that has been in current events recently or chronically, especially when they do so in a way that many people are likely to think about that current event when they hear the reading, it might be worth reflecting upon in a sermon - even if not every Sunday.
  • Our vicar stood up at the start of the sermon and said 'I usually start each sermon with a joke, but today, in the light of recent news, I think that would be most inappropriate'. He then preached a most helpful, and excellent, sermon on Hope in Adversity.
  • AlbertusAlbertus Shipmate
    I honestly don't understand why people are talking up these air raids on Syria as being particularly significant. We're not going to war; this seems to have been a token gesture (unless you were on the receiving end of them). Why should they, rather than any of the other quotidian ghastlinesses of the contemporary world, be considered especially worth marking? (Although I know that's not what the OP , which quite properly is cast in more general terms, is saying.)
  • When the Florida school shooting happened earlier this year someone on the Ship (I think?) posted a link to a brilliant prayer by an American Rabbi, addressing the event. I used that at the beginning of our service, on that morning - but stuck to what I had already prepared for the sermon. I did something a little similar this week; stuck to what I had for the sermon anyway - but after the notices and before our first hymn reminded people of Paul's exhortation to pray for those in authority, referencing the ongoing and sadly repetitive problems of Syria and other countries in that area, and our frustration at knowing what is the right response etc. Didn't declare for one side or the other, just reminded folks that in their prayers through the week we should be always holding these things up to God, if possible.

    Like a few others here, the missile strikes didn't really seem that outrageously unusual? Awful to say so, I suppose.

    I will include current event references in sermons if they seem apposite to the scripture or theme. But I don't feel tied to do so every week. It probably is good on a regular basis, however, for a church's worship service to explicitly reflect knowledge of what's going on in the world around it.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Our intercessions yesterday included a reference to peoples' fears, and prayer for wisdom and humility for those in positions of authority at a time when four out of the five permanent members of the Security Council appear to be acting in breach of international law.
  • That's not prayer, that's politics. People need to be educated to pray without making value judgements, doubly so if it's during the intercessions.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Our intercessions yesterday included a reference to peoples' fears, and prayer for wisdom and humility for those in positions of authority......

    That's a perfectly legitimate prayer, ISTM, as long as the subsequent words (about breaching international law) were not included.....

    IJ

  • I took them as being included.
  • Mr SmiffMr Smiff Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Our intercessions yesterday included a reference to peoples' fears, and prayer for wisdom and humility for those in positions of authority......

    That's a perfectly legitimate prayer, ISTM, as long as the subsequent words (about breaching international law) were not included.....

    IJ

    I was thinking a similar thing and, I suspect*, probably prayed a similar thing (sans the "breaching international law" words) myself.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    That's not prayer, that's politics. People need to be educated to pray without making value judgements, doubly so if it's during the intercessions.

    I'd like you to expand on this, if possible. I'm aware, when I'm leading intercessions, that the people I'm leading in prayer will have different political views from me (for instance, some may have supported the airstrikes in Syria; I thought they were a bad, and largely pointless, move). But I did pray for a genuine peace in that region and for an end not just to the war, but to all suffering, injury, torture and denial of freedom. Was that a political prayer? And was I wrong, in your view, to lead others in praying it?

    ---
    * I only say "I suspect" because I don't normally use fully-written prayers and I can't remember the exact words I used!
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    That's not prayer, that's politics. People need to be educated to pray without making value judgements, doubly so if it's during the intercessions.

    Yes it is - plus prophecy.
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Albertus wrote: »
    We're not going to war; this seems to have been a token gesture

    The USA thinks it has the (God-given) right permamently to be at war with someone.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited April 2018
    Leo wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    That's not prayer, that's politics. People need to be educated to pray without making value judgements, doubly so if it's during the intercessions.

    Yes it is - plus prophecy.
    It's not prophecy, it's posturing. Since when has your scheduled intercessor had the authority to issue divine-level legal judgements?

    @Mr Smiff, I think the above intercession becomes politics from "who appear to be acting in breach..." onwards, in other words when it starts pontificating about contentious legal issues (I haven't followed the debates closely, but it seems to me that there is legal precedent for the action in Syria in the US, and both the UK and France have been calling their leaders to account in their respective parliaments today). The statement is clearly a debatable opinion being opportunistically framed as an ex cathedra statement of position.

    It's a fine line, and on occasions I think there is cause for the church to engage politically. I spoke out over Trump's election (without naming names) because at that time there was a non-negligible chance of Marine Le Pen winning the French Presidency and I wanted to kind of test-run what it would feel like. I really don't think intercessions are the place to do it unless the intercessions in question have been vetted by the leadership.

    (It's a bit like people in our extempore prayer meetings praying about their forthcoming house move and how they'll need people to help them on such and such a date, taken to another level...).
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    We are using the Narrative Lectionary, so when last week's lesson was about Paul on the Road to Damascus, it was kind of unavoidable. We had a brief mention in the sermon, but we did include the event in our petitions.

    I am not adverse to speaking to current events in a sermon. Part of preaching is to share the Gospel with people where they are at and if current events are impacting the people, then I will speak to the events.
  • There is a difference between trying to avoid advocating a certain political policy and avoiding discussing anything tangentially related to political policies, including most current events, during the sermon. That is what happens at the church I attend and that is why I feel like pulling my hair out many Sundays.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Dead Horses Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    We are using the Narrative Lectionary, so when last week's lesson was about Paul on the Road to Damascus, it was kind of unavoidable. We had a brief mention in the sermon, but we did include the event in our petitions.

    /tangent - we too are following "the narrative lectionary" -- but we got Thomas on Sunday - conversion of Paul later along. And here I thought it was all the same thing. HOwever, as it doesn't provide usefully for June, July or August, we're going back to the RCL and will (I hope) not return to the Narrative Lectionary. /end tangent
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