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Source: (consider it) Thread: What puts you off from setting foot inside a church?
Gamaliel
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My experience is that they act holier than thou in all those areas where they are distinctive, same as Baptists, same as Anglicans, same as RCs same as ...

That's what I found strangely encouraging.

They are no better or no worse than the rest of us.

We all do the same sort of thing, it's simply easier to spot when we see it in other traditions and in other people rather than in ourselves. Which also could be construed as a holier than thou statement but isn't intended as such.

On the pacifist thing, I've found that the Quakers are very aware that they aren't the only ones to hold those views. As with everyone else, though, they do like to emphasise what makes them distinctive.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
On the pacifist thing, I've found that the Quakers are very aware that they aren't the only ones to hold those views.

That's not what I've found in my - very limited - contacts with them. Those I know tend to be quite "possessive" about their pacifism, getting a bit niggled if one says they're not the only folk who take that line.
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Gamaliel
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To an extent.

What I've found us that they'll fully accept that there are individuals elsewhere who take that line or that some groups are closer to them on that than others, but when it comes to the 'institutional' or collective level, if you like, then they do like to be protective of that. As U_ve said,vwe all like to be protective of our distinctives and the Quakers are no different in that respect.

In a similar way, some Baptists I've met are highly defensive and protective of 'the priesthood of all believer's which they somehow imagine to be expressed more fully among themselves than it is elsewhere.

Equally, we'll find Catholics who are proprietorial of their 'catholicity', Anglicans who are the same about their apparent latitude and Orthodox who are Hypderdox and think they have more 'dox' than anyone else ...

We all do it.

One of the biggest things that can put any of us putting foot anywhere else is other people.

I know burnt-out and isolated Christians who have become so hyper-critical of churches in general that they never darken anyone's doors because nothing is going to meet their self-imposed high standards.

I'm not talking about people with genuine grievances now, or who gave been hurt or let down by church ...

It seems to me that if we are going to set foot in churches we aren't used to it which are different ... Or those that we are familiar with but which no longer appeal - then we are going to have to develop a thicker skin and become more tolerant.

It depends on the issues though.

Quakers being holier than thou over certain issues or having petty anal spats over chockie biscuits wouldn't be a deal breaker for me - because people are people and I know that the Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Anglicans, Catholics, Everyone Else up the road will have their equivalents.

That I, as an individual, will have my equivalent.

I wouldn't be a Quaker, not because they are pains in the arse - they are no more pains in the arse than anyone else - but for doctrinal, creedal and praxis reasons.

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Brenda Clough
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Yes, I think it's important when looking at churches to distinguish between a purely local repulsiveness (the vestry from Hell, the Torquemada pews) and the problems you have with the entire denomination or group (loathe the BCP, can't stand monstrances, no infant baptism, etc.).

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
...I wouldn't be a Quaker, not because they are pains in the arse - they are no more pains in the arse than anyone else...

Although in my admittedly limited experience, they do tend to talk a bit too much (when not worshipping, of course) for my liking.

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Gamaliel
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They are not alone in that, Albertus, but I take your point. Perhaps they feel the need to make up for the silence in their worship by talking too much the rest of the time ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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Baptists and other "informal Evangelicals" can certainly talk too much, in the services.

Such as in prayers which go: "Dear Lord, we would bring before you our beloved brother Gamaliel, Lord. You know that he starting a new job on Monday, Lord, and we praise and thank you for your goodness and mercy in his life until now. And now, Lord, we would ask your blessing upon him as he begins this new phase of his life, Lord. Please go with him and before him, making smooth his path and blessing him in all that he may be asked to do ....(etc.)".

Why not, "Dear God, we thank you that Gamaliel is starting a new job on Monday: please help him"?

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Bishops Finger
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Baptist Trainfan suggests "Dear God, we thank you that Gamaliel is starting a new job on Monday: please help him".

How about " O God, thank you for Gamaliel's new job: please help him"?

Even more minimalist.. [Snigger]

IJ

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Gamaliel
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Gosh ...

Seeing as I'm not starting a new job on Monday, I thank you for your prayers and concern ...

[Biased] [Big Grin]

But yes, Baptist Trainfan does capture the essence of that kind of extemporary prayer.

It reminds me of an anecdote I once heard about a prayer meeting where they were praying for someone in prison ...

'Lord, we know you work in strange ways ...'

For non-UK readers, Strangeways is the name of a prison in Manchester.

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Gamaliel
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Actually, it's more likely to go as follows:

"Dear Lord, Father ... Lord Jesus ... we really just ... we really just Lord God ... Father ... we really just pray, Jesus ... we really just pray for our brother Gamaliel, Lord. You know Lord Jesus, Father God, that he is is like ... just ... really just ... starting a new job on Monday, Lord, and we praise and thank you for your goodness and mercy in his life Lord God ... until now Jesus. And now, Lord, we would really just ask your blessing upon him Lord Jesus as he begins this new phase of his life, Lord. Please go with him Father God and just before him, Lord Jesus, making smooth his path and blessing him in all that he may be asked to do ....(etc.) really just ... Lord ... Father ... really just ....".

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

It reminds me of an anecdote I once heard about a prayer meeting where they were praying for someone in prison ...

'Lord, we know you work in strange ways ...'

For non-UK readers, Strangeways is the name of a prison in Manchester.

Well, Harry Secombe made the mistake of singing his famous song "Bless this house" at a concert in a prison - it includes the lines " Bless these walls so firm and stout, / Keeping want and troubles out".

Johnny Cash he was certainly not (didn't have the figure or the voice, anyway!)

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Actually, it's more likely to go as follows:

Well, I was abbreviating!
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Enoch
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Do you ever wonder if some Christians have never noticed Matt 6:7 or assume it couldn't possibly apply to us,
quote:
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
And why 'we DO pray', 'we JUST .....' and why the spread of 'Father God'?

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Bishops Finger
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Continuing along this tangent, the pastor of our neighbouring Evangelical Free Church in the Days Of My Yoof would probably have prayed thus:

'O LARD! We do most earnestly and heartily pray thy Blessing upon our Dear Brother Gamaliel, as he prepareth to enter upon the new employment Thou hast vouchsafed to grant him, beginning next Monday. O LARD! As Thy bountiful mercy doth overshadow us all our days, do Thou, O LARD! walk alongside him in all his goings-out and comings-in, from Monday next, and henceforth for evermore. And this we pray, O LARD! in the most precious name of Our Blessed LARD! and Saviour, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, beseeching Thee to grant our dear brother Thy grace so to rest in Thee all his days, from next Monday, and that he may be lifted up from his present Bed of Sickness etc. etc. etc.'

All in a broad West Country accent, hence the LARDS!

Pastor T. was a lovely man, but his services and prayer meetings were known - nay, notorious - for their leeeeeeeeeeeeeO LARD!eeeeeeeeeeeeeength...

IJ

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Baptist Trainfan
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I was seriously tempted to include "vouchsafe".
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SvitlanaV2
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Actually, I think most churches could do with lengthier prayer time, but listening to someone else's rambling prayers is less appealing.

Church websites and noticeboards should perhaps do more to sell themselves on the brevity of their worship, since grumbles about overlong prayers, sermons and bouts of singing seem quite common among churchgoers....

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
Baptist Trainfan suggests "Dear God, we thank you that Gamaliel is starting a new job on Monday: please help him".

How about " O God, thank you for Gamaliel's new job: please help him"?


Or even 'Lord, Gamaliel? You know what to do.' [Big Grin]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I was seriously tempted to include "vouchsafe".

"Vouchsafe" turns up in English translations of our Slavonic and Greek services. WTH? It's like they were translated by somebody with a penchant for all that's wrong in English-language prayer.

But the worst, the absolute worst, translation flub (our Bishop has since given us a dispensation to dispense with that translation, praise him) is the priestly prayer that refers to "Thy ... second coming again."

Come again?

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Gamaliel
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Brevity? The Orthodox don't do brevity. Neither do traditional evangelicals and Pentecostals. I

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Albertus
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Here's one with a 'vouchsafe' that has very little excess fat and perhaps renders all other intercession (for our own needs and wishes) superfluous:

quote:
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking: We beseech thee to have compassion upon our infirmities; and those things, which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, vouchsafe to give us for the worthiness of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1662 BCP. of course.
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Brevity? The Orthodox don't do brevity. Neither do traditional evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Indeed! But they might have a few more people setting foot inside their churches if they did!

At this point in time it's the more MOTR congregations that could be using brevity as a selling point. (Methodist sermons should be a bit shorter, though, IMO.)

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Brevity? The Orthodox don't do brevity. Neither do traditional evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Indeed! But they might have a few more people setting foot inside their churches if they did!
Is there research to support this, or is it just a hunch?

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Enoch
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And here's a rendering into modern English I've written on the fly, with no 'vouchsafe' in it:
quote:
Almighty God you are the fountain of all wisdom. You know both what we need before we ask, and the ignorance in our asking. We ask you to have compassion on our infirmities. Because we are unworthy, there are things we dare not ask for; because we are blind, there are things we cannot see to ask for. Despite that, because your Son Jesus Christ is worthy and is our Lord, we ask you to give us whatever we might need. Amen


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Gamaliel
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Brevity has got nack all to do with it.

The churches that are holding their own are those which actually stand for something.

MoTR churches tend not to ...

That said, our nearest Orthodox priest tells me that women in his congregation get stick because they don't get home early enough to cook Sunday dinner for their husbands ...

The evangelical parish here tends to have services that last about an hour to an hour and a half. That doesn't seem to put people off. But then, we'd never know how many they might get if their services were 30 or 40 minutes in length.

But 'Come to church. We won't keep you more than half an hour' isn't going to win any marketing awards.

Whatever the tradition, I don't think brevity or otherwise is the issue - it's more a question of content.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
That said, our nearest Orthodox priest tells me that women in his congregation get stick because they don't get home early enough to cook Sunday dinner for their husbands ...

They clearly have poor taste in husbands. Let them fix their own goddamned Sunday dinners. Lazy turds.

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SvitlanaV2
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mousethief


I'm partly being facetious. However, as I said, people do traditionally like to grumble about the length of services. I've even heard clergymen joke from the pulpit itself that we should be pleased to hear that the day's sermon or service is going to be shorter than usual. They assume that we want to get out of there sharpish. (Makes me uneasy when they do that, but I think I'm supposed to find it funny....)

Now, we've all heard that high expectations of and and serious engagement with worship - which often means fairly long services - tends to mean more committed and cohesive congregations. But ISTM that many congregations (mostly but exclusively non-evangelical and non-Orthodox ones) are unlikely to go down this route. For them, what matters now is to create or maintain any sort of connection with the life of the church.

For example, the appeal of cathedral worship is praised by church officials even though it doesn't require a high level of commitment, regular attendance or lengthy rituals. More MOTR congregations run coffee mornings and 'messy church' events, not officially to recruit new people for conversion and intense worship experiences, but to serve the community and create positive PR for the church.

Moreover, several posts ago, I referred to David Voas, who claimed that the appeal (such as it is) of churchgoing in Britain today had more to do with community than religion. It's a controversial statement, but one could argue that lengthy worship as a conduit for 'community' is pointless for the many moderate churches which will never be able to unite people around deeply felt doctrines, lifestyles, great pulpit oratory, meaty sermons, or even beautiful rituals. In such cases, perhaps 'worship' does need to be short and 'community' long. Some kind of 'theology of coffee' perhaps needs to be centre stage rather than on the Fresh Expressions fringes.

YMMV.

[ 29. December 2016, 22:55: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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SvitlanaV2
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... 'mostly but not exclusively'...
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Gamaliel
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Cathedral services aren't necessarily short. They also tend to include more ritual than your average parish church can mount.

Fresh Expressions type worship isn't necessarily short either. I don't know much about the coffee style services but I suspect those gatherings aren't necessarily short either. If the purpose is to build community then I suspect such congregations may spend a fair bit of time together.

As for poor choices in husbands ... if you are a working class woman in Stoke on Trent and have been married a long time, then I'm afraid the expectation is going to be there that you should get your husband his Sunday dinner. It might only be 'lobby' (breakfast will have been bacon and egg on Staffordshire oatcakes) but not comparing back from church until after 1pm isn't going to go down very well.

There are cultural considerations.

Way back in my full-on charismatic days we used to be part of a city-wide fellowship. We were always having evangelistic outreaches in various parts of the city and in one part gradually built up a sizeable local congregation that could easily been established as a church in its own right. Instead, the leaders at that time insisted on everyone gathering centrally on a Sunday.

I used to drive a mini-bus round collecting people. We even hired a proper coach for a time when numbers grew.

However, working class women - and they were mostly women and teenagers - gradually dropped away as their husbands weren't too happy with them getting home past dinner time.

We can rant about the injustice of that as much as we like, but that's the way of it in those communities.

How they do these things in traditionally Orthodox countries like Greece, I don't know but I suspect cultural expectations have adapted to the length of the services or they take place at such times that fit the rhythm of life there.

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Pangolin Guerre
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
...I wouldn't be a Quaker, not because they are pains in the arse - they are no more pains in the arse than anyone else...

Although in my admittedly limited experience, they do tend to talk a bit too much (when not worshipping, of course) for my liking.
For a time I attended the local Friends Meeting House. When it seemed that the Spirit was especially, er, promiscuous, we referred to it as a "popcorn meeting", i.e., everyone popping out of their seats, feeling the need to speak. The result was not always edifying.

[ 30. December 2016, 03:38: Message edited by: Pangolin Guerre ]

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Gamaliel
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I've only attended about 4 Quaker meetings and only one of them answered the 'popcorn' description - but I could forgive them that as it was at a Quaker Study Centre the morning after Trump was elected so the younger Friends in particular were quite agitated about the whole thing.

It wasn't particularly edifying but one contribution in particular seemed to hit the spot and has stayed with me.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
And here's a rendering into modern English I've written on the fly, with no 'vouchsafe' in it:
quote:
Almighty God you are the fountain of all wisdom. You know both what we need before we ask, and the ignorance in our asking. We ask you to have compassion on our infirmities. Because we are unworthy, there are things we dare not ask for; because we are blind, there are things we cannot see to ask for. Despite that, because your Son Jesus Christ is worthy and is our Lord, we ask you to give us whatever we might need. Amen

I like that- thank you.

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Bishops Finger
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On the subject of brevity, the C of E's own 'A Church Near You' website (free for any parish to use) does indeed include the facility to indicate the duration of any service or event.

FWIW.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Baptist Trainfan
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Ah, but when a church says "Morning Worship 10.30 - 11.30 am", is it the truth or wishful thinking?

FWIW, a lot of church now include a "What to expect if you come to one of our services" page on their websites. This typically includes information on transport and parking, style of worship and music, even what to wear!

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Bishops Finger
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Fair comment - but if you can't trust a church to be truthful, who can you trust?

[Two face]

Agreed, though, that the sort of useful info BT mentions can indeed be useful.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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SvitlanaV2
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Gamaliel

You've given one good reason for services to be shorter: it would enable women who have families to cook for to get back home sooner. Considering that most churchgoers are women, and that some outreach efforts of the future (as in the past) are likely to attract women but not their children or partners, perhaps this isn't such a frivolous issue.

FEs or other specially adapted services will obviously vary in length. Shortness is a definite advantage in some cases, for example in the case of weekday or Saturday services that are designed to attract shoppers, or office workers on their lunch breaks. But Sunday can be equally busy for some people these days.

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Galloping Granny
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Baptists and other "informal Evangelicals" can certainly talk too much, in the services.

Such as in prayers which go: "Dear Lord, we would bring before you our beloved brother Gamaliel, Lord. You know that he starting a new job on Monday, Lord, and we praise and thank you for your goodness and mercy in his life until now. And now, Lord, we would ask your blessing upon him as he begins this new phase of his life, Lord. Please go with him and before him, making smooth his path and blessing him in all that he may be asked to do ....(etc.)".

Why not, "Dear God, we thank you that Gamaliel is starting a new job on Monday: please help him"?

I once went to a Baptist wedding.
The young Pastor prayed the 'prayer of the "just"' at some length, but he was followed by three senior elders who stood around the young couple and each briefly blessed them, extempore but in moving, well-chosen words.
There are obviously two streams in the Baptist church.
In fact my co-executor and dear friend, 60-ish, who is helping to dispatch my late husband's collections to overseas dealers, offered a brief prayer of protection over each consignment as it was sent off. He scattered a few 'justs'; I thanked him warmly.
Why do they do it???

GG

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mousethief

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Every time we go to a Protty wedding we find ourselves saying, "Wait, what? That was it? They're married?" It's like their first time was a quickie.

I heard one especially good wedding sermon once, at I believe a Presbyterian church in Detroit. It was based on a bunch of rhyming words: cleave, leave, bereave, grieve, etc. The preacher was pasty-white but had the cadences and oompf of a black Baptist preacher. It was a distinct pleasure to hear, even if the actual content was pretty bog-standard "love each other and trust God" kind of fare. Service still came in under 20 minutes though.

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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
It's like their first time was a quickie.

But hopefully satisfying ... without all that fiddling with bra straps.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Brevity? The Orthodox don't do brevity. Neither do traditional evangelicals and Pentecostals.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Indeed! But they might have a few more people setting foot inside their churches if they did!

At this point in time it's the more MOTR congregations that could be using brevity as a selling point. (Methodist sermons should be a bit shorter, though, IMO.)

I can't hack long services, although I used to, and they certainly put me off attendance. However MOTR CoE places seem to have dwindling attendances and the evangelical and even more long-winded modern Pentecostal places seem to be the ones that are growing.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Gamaliel
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I'm not knocking practicality, SvitlanaV2.

On the Orthodox example, some of the more gung-ho of the convert priests here are almost as optimistic as we were back in my full-on non-denom restorationist days ...

Ok, they talk in terms of centuries rather than months or years like we did, but some of their parishes have seen precious little growth in 20 years.

Others are doing reasonably well, but largely, it seems with keenie Eastern European families and the odd individual - often very odd individual - with a penchant for anything Orthodox.

I often wonder how they intend to engage and attract the great indifferent and unwashed ...

I can see the point of some cafe style FE initiatives and pop-up churches as it were, but I do wonder how such initiatives can put down strong roots.

Perhaps fluidity is the way of the future - but so much self-consciously 'contemporary' seems contrived and ephemeral.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
... Service still came in under 20 minutes though.

Even if not exactly praiseworthy, that really is an achievement. Even if one subtracts the time spent signing the various registration documents, and forbade having any hymns, it would be difficult > impossible to get through a CofE wedding in 20 minutes.

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SvitlanaV2
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I think all forms of worship that don't currently have well over a 100 year pedigree are likely to seem 'contrived' to somebody. I imagine that fewer and fewer people will have an issue with this, as the shared memory of inherited forms recedes.

However, I think there will always be places where the most beautiful traditions will be carefully preserved. People who want them are going to have to adopt a sectarian rather than a parish mindset, and be willing to travel a considerable distance in order to set foot inside the churches that offer the worshipping styles and doctrines that they prefer. I understand from the Ship that many churchgoers in rural areas are already doing this.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
... Service still came in under 20 minutes though.

Even if not exactly praiseworthy, that really is an achievement. Even if one subtracts the time spent signing the various registration documents, and forbade having any hymns, it would be difficult > impossible to get through a CofE wedding in 20 minutes.
Usually here the signing is post-ceremony. The low-church weddings I've been are about 50/50 on having hymns. Often it's just one or two solos by a friend of the couple. Sometimes some kind of actual liturgical actions will be taken ("Do you, Belinda, take Arborius here to be your lawfully wedded husband in sickness and health and all that?" "Sure."). Sometimes we get the vomitous ceremony of the couple taking two candles and lighting a third then blowing out their own candles, indicating that they have ceased to exist as individuals, and lost their souls to the Borg.

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Baptist Trainfan
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A question to Mousethief for clarification: are your "church weddings" also the "legal weddings", or are they separate? That makes a big difference as to what one is "allowed" to do.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
A question to Mousethief for clarification: are your "church weddings" also the "legal weddings", or are they separate? That makes a big difference as to what one is "allowed" to do.

Orfie weddings are both, alas. Wish it were otherwise. But there are no vows, no "I do" or "I will" pronouncements other than to say you're not encumbered by engagement to anyone else, and are entering into the marriage freely, nor any "I now pronounce you" pronouncements. We have our ancient ceremony, and we sign the papers (or signed them beforehand) while everybody else files into the parish hall and starts noshing the appetizers and drinking the wine.

The 20 and 30 and 40 minute weddings I've been to have not been Orthodox.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Sometimes we get the vomitous ceremony of the couple taking two candles and lighting a third then blowing out their own candles, indicating that they have ceased to exist as individuals, and lost their souls to the Borg.

I've never come across this. A brief google suggests it is very recent as an innovation and most popular in the US and Australia. Apparently there's a version where all the guests light candles as well.

[ 03. January 2017, 17:33: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Brenda Clough
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The variant I have seen is where the parents of the bride and groom go up and light the candles at the start of the service. My parents had to do this when my brother got married, and my father (a smoker) somehow had no matches. It was I, the Altar Guild veteran, who insisted on slipping a book of matches into my (nonsmoking) mother's purse.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:

But there are no vows, no "I do" or "I will" pronouncements other than to say you're not encumbered by engagement to anyone else, and are entering into the marriage freely, nor any "I now pronounce you" pronouncements.

Ah, that's not an option here in Britain (except for the "I pronounce you") - the marriage would not be valid.
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Fr Weber
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Sometimes we get the vomitous ceremony of the couple taking two candles and lighting a third then blowing out their own candles, indicating that they have ceased to exist as individuals, and lost their souls to the Borg.

Well, nature abhors a vacuum, and people love ceremonies--and so, in the absence of the ancient, decent and orderly ceremonies of the Church, people will invent their own.

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--Sr Theresa Koernke, IHM

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Bishops Finger
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The Blessed Percy said much the same about funerals, in The Parson's Handbook .

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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