Sunday, February 26, 2017

Singing a New Song...

I ran across this Ted Talk this week on "Reclaiming Religion" by Rabbi Sharon Brous on the two most dangerous forces to religion - religious extremism and what she calls "religious routine-ism".  The extremism we see all the time - in terrorist attacks all over the globe, in the Israel/Palestinian conflict, in the recent hate crimes against Jews in the United States, and a resurgence in the Klan and other white nationalist groups since the Presidential campaign last year.  It is a dangerous thing what people are doing in the name of God, not just to the people affected, but to the religions that they use to blaspheme our God, turning the mass of people against religion.

Routine-ism is a more quiet danger to religion - the quiet death of institutions either unwilling to change, or using liturgy or reverence as shield for its members' fear of change, or as an excuse to being unwilling to engage those that most need help - the hungry, the poor, the addicted, the despondent and depressed.  A living religion, Rabbi Brous says, is one that seeks to create social change, and one where the worship is relevant and joyful.  Here's her Ted Talk:

This comes following last week's meeting at church to address the needs of our kids and youth at St. Peter's.  This meeting has become a wellspring of energy and ideas flowing out of all corners of the church.  We have so many new projects and new energy that have come out of a one hour meeting that I have been amazed by the power of the spirit that has emerged.  And it seems to be growing exponentially across different sectors of the church.  

As we enter into a high energy surge at St. Peter's, it reminds me that worship should be capable of being joyful, to provide solace when called for, and to allow reflection or penitence when needed.  A worship that is not capable of providing all of that when called upon in the life of a church, is not an alive religion, but another casualty of "routine-ism."

I found another video from Rabbi Brous, of one of the services from Ikar Los Angeles, which she helped found:  

This seems to me to be such a perfect blend of tradition and modern worship - this is not a mega church that seeks to give every person some kind of entertainment over substance, but a group with its feet firmly planted in tradition, that makes it relevant and joyful.

Then Mother Chris showed me a video of St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, an Episcopal church:

I don't think this type of service would fit at St. Peter's or many other churches, but it shows that there are ways to make liturgy relevant without giving up the tradition that help to define our religion.  And it's exciting, and joyful.  Because it is with hope and joy that we are to engage the world, for that is what the Word gives us - empathy for others, prayers for our enemies, and hope for a better world in the future.

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