Your January 2016 editorial states: “Christians absorb more theology from what they sing. . . .”
What kind of theology have we absorbed by singing Psalm 18, stanza 6 (Psalter Hymnal #18)?
“God prepares me well for war. . . . I pursued my enemies . . . beat them fine like blowing dust. . . .”
Did I hear something similar from politicians?
Grand Rapids, Mich.
In response to “The Business of Worship Music”: in my experience, CCLI provides a valuable and appreciated service to worship teams. . . .
Mr. Vander Zee critiques CCLI on the basis of the money it generates for musicians. Not all writers of contemporary worship songs are getting rich. In fact, most are not. If writers such as Matt Maher or Chris Tomlin are able to make mortgage payments, it would be wrong-headed to conclude that their music is subpar. Would we similarly castigate the preachers, teachers, and writers who earn a living for their work in the church?
The fact that it is possible to hear similar music around the world has as much to do with globalization and information technology as it does with the commercialization of spiritual songs.
St. Catharines, Ont.
The Art of Following
The central metaphor of “The Art of Following” is inappropriate. The training of Marines and the discipline of living a Christian life are diametrically opposed. The training of Marines has as its goals the desensitizing of young persons to killing and the destruction of empathy for others. Christians respect life and practice empathy for all.
The New Testament teaches us to do away with tribal loyalties.
What an encouraging issue (Dec. 2015). The feature article “More Dreaming,” reinforced by the editorial, was especially stimulating. Often after church meetings—local, regional, denominational—I’ve noted how easily a core identity challenge was evaded by raising a “restructure”-type topic. Hopefully the seeds sown in these articles will sprout, and multiple conversations will be cultivated—conversations that will not overlook the article’s frequent use of the adjective missional. Rather, they will prompt trinitarian worship that encounters the risen Son of God breathing the Spirit on his followers and sending them as the Father had sent him (John 20:21-22), the kind of worship that first launched the church on God’s wider-world mission (Acts 13:2).
Calling System for Pastors
A minister called to a three- or four-year term, with the option of extending the term subject to the agreement of both parties, would give him or her and the congregation a good working relationship if everything went well and an “out” if the situation became unworkable (“Is it time to change our system of calling?” FAQ).
Our society is changing, and congregations are facing pressures that didn’t exist in the past. Sometimes we expect our ministers to be “all things to all people in all situations.” And when things go sour in a congregation, it can be extremely painful for minister and congregation to go their separate ways. With a fixed-term situation, the potential for unhealthy separation would be minimized.
I found the use of a 2009 photo of refugees trying to reach Tanzania on your December cover interesting, especially in light of the fact that the world is dealing with an even greater humanitarian crisis because of the Syrian civil war.
I wonder why our church paper and our diaconal organizations are largely silent on this matter? Why aren’t we proposing sponsorship of Syrian refugees? Or have we allowed the fear-mongering rhetoric of political aspirants in our countries to divert our attention from doing the Lord’s work? The Syrian refugee crisis demands the active involvement of Christ’s church.
Editor’s note: Look for more stories about how churches in Canada and the U.S. are responding to the Syrian refugee crisis in upcoming issues of The Banner.
Entering the Mystery
What a wonderful article that taps us on the shoulder and re-commissions us to love one another (“Entering the Mystery’”). The unconditional love between a mother and her baby illustrates the perfect love of God that reaches out and touches us, again and again, at different times, in different ways. God’s “outrageous, unconditional love for us—love beyond understanding” reaches us even in these deeply troubled times. We are truly blessed to be God’s children, part of his family. Thank you for the reminder that Christmas is our celebration of love for all people, not a list of to-do’s. God only asks that we return this love and share it with others throughout the year.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Real Love Lost
Rev. Cumings’s article (“In My Humble Opinion,”) somewhat confusingly infers that people in the LGBTQ community are not capable of virtuous, selfless, sacrificial love. For him to imply that people in the LGBTQ community are somehow less capable of anything but physical love is unwarranted. The whole idea behind same sex marriage is that couples want the right to be in a longterm, committed, loving, legal relationship.
It was all the more disquieting to read the article immediately after reading Joyce Kane’s “Entering the Mystery” about God’s unconditional love for us—a love so outrageous that it makes us want to love and accept others unconditionally too.
That’s the great news—we don’t have to judge others. We simply get to love each other and let Jesus sort it out later.
—Cindy Lanning Burch
Grand Rapids, Mich.