Category: music

Worship From Home: February 7, 2021

Worship From Home: February 7, 2021

Welcome to the weekly worship service of First Christian Church of St. Paul a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Join us each Sunday for worship at 10:00 AM. www.fccsaintpaul.org.

First Christian Church of St. Paul is a small, open and affirming, and multicultural church located near St. Paul, MN in Mahtomedi. We are a local expression of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

We hear a lot about freedom in our culture. The freedom of speech, the freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to choose. But what does that mean if we are Christians? What does freedom look like in the body of Christ? Pastor Rob will be looking at this question today from 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and we hear music from the late Zimbabwean composer Dr. Patrick Matsikenyiri.

I hope these worship services are of help to you on your spiritual journey. I hope that they remind you that even as we are apart we are part of a wider part of humanity. Please consider sharing the video and audio with a friend or relative that needs to hear the good news of the gospel.

Below is the video and sermon podcast for this week’s service.   

God be with you in the week ahead.  

Dennis Sanders, Pastor

The February 7, 2021 Service

The January 31 Sermon Podcast

Worship From Home: January 31, 2021

Worship From Home: January 31, 2021

Welcome to the weekly worship service of First Christian Church of St. Paul a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Join us each Sunday for worship at 10:00 AM. www.fccsaintpaul.org.

This Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Epiphany): Do we believe in God?  Really, do we believe that God is real, that God makes a difference in the world, in our lives?  In Mark 1 we encounter Jesus preaching in a local synagogue and casting out demons to the surprise of the crowd.  They saw God acting in a way they never had before.  What does that mean for us today? What does a living God mean for us now and what can it mean in our world today? Join us as we learn together.

I hope these worship services are of help to you on your spiritual journey. I hope that they remind you that even as we are apart we are part of a wider part of humanity. Please consider sharing the video and audio with a friend or relative that needs to hear the good news of the gospel.

Below is the video for this week’s service.  It will be available for viewing starting at 10:00 AM.  

God be with you in the week ahead.  

Dennis Sanders, Pastor

The January 31, 2021 Service

The January 31 Sermon Podcast

The Faith Experience

When Prince died on April 21, I wrote a post on another blog about how Prince made it easier for black kids like me to be gay.  Growing up with the machismo that was such a part of the culture I grew up in during the 70s and 80s, Prince was a godsend.

Speaking of godsends, Prince was in a rare league of artists who would publicly talk about their faith.  He was America’s answer to Bono in that respect.

I can remember listening to “I Would Die 4 U” the first time and excited to hear a song that talked about the atonement, Jesus and grace so easily. Maybe others thought this was a song about how Prince felt about a lover, but the way the lyrics were written, it was hard to see this as a talking about girlfriend.  No, he had his sights set on higher things:

You’re just a sinner I am told
Be your fire when you’re cold
Make you happy when you’re sad
Make you good when you are bad

I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscious
I am love
All I really need is to know that
You believe

The opening part of his 1981 hit “Controversy” is the Lord’s Prayer, which might seem like an odd way to start this post-disco tune, but since the song is talking about who Prince is (black or white? straight or gay?) his recitation of the prayer Jesus taught is the answer to the question.  He knew who he was and also whose he was.

Even his signature hit, 1984’s “Purple Rain” had some spiritual meanings. A quote from the 1980s talked about what Purple Rain meant:

When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god”guide you through the purple rain

In 2015, Prince covered the song “What If” originally sung by contemporary Christian music artist Nichole Nordeman. It’s a pretty straight up song about Jesus and Prince makes it his own.

What if you’re right
And He was just
Another nice guy

What if you’re right
What if it’s true
They say the cross
Will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true

What if He takes His place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends, what then

But what if you’re wrong
What if there’s more
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for

What if you jump
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise
What if He’s more
Than enough what if it’s love

There were several other songs like “The Cross” or “God” I could talk about. What made Prince so fascinating to me is how his faith was blended into his whole life. Sex, love and God seemed to all intermingle together. His faith sprung from his life, raised Seventh Day Adventist, spending time a local United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and his conversion to Jehovah’s Witness (he attended a local Kingdom Hall in suburban Minneapolis) and his music showed his faith never left him.

It’s hard to believe Prince is gone.  As my husband said last night, you want to believe this is some kind of dream that we will all wake up from.  But it isn’t.

What I can say is that he is finally able to live out the words from his 1984 hit “Let’s Go Crazy:”

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

Have fun enjoying the happiness and God, Prince.

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, Yada Yada Yada

“Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner.”
This is one of those cliches that Christians tend to use (or at least I’ve heard people use them, I don’t remember hearing someone say it) and one Christian in particular doesn’t like it.  Here’s what Christian Piatt (a fellow Disciples of Christ pastor) has to say about this:

This is a backhanded way to tell someone you love them, at best. It also ignores the command by Jesus not to focus on the splinter in our neighbors’ eyes while a plank remains in our own. Bottom line: we all screw up, and naming others’ sin as noteworthy while remaining silent about your own is arrogant.

Many Christians, mostly those in Mainline churches, hate the phrase and with reason: it’s been associated with how some Christians have viewed LGBT folks.  While I’ve never heard people say this, it is common for more conservative Christians to act this out and in some cases there’s been more focus on hating the sin than there is on loving the sinner.

Because of this tendency, there has been a move to basically be offended at this practice.  “Mind your own damn business!” Is the response from most people.

While I understand the tendency, I feel we are losing something in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Trevor Lee, an evangelical Disciples of Christ pastor in Denver wrote this in a post last week:

I need to be able to hate the sin while loving the sinner. I need my wife and kids and friends to be able to do it too, because I am a sinner. I want to be better than what I am. I hope my wife and friends want me to be more than what I am too. Not because I need to impress God or tilt the scales but because sin is destructive. It is not hating sin that is unloving.

Even more broadly in culture we embrace this at times. We long for our friend to stay sober, and hate it when he doesn’t, because we love him. We rejoice when a co-worker catches a real glimpse of the plight of the poor and turns from selfishness to generosity (and so we affirm that something is better in her now than it was before). We hate that a family member runs from one broken relationship to another, because we long for him to experience more. Yes, there are times when we hate the sin and love the sinner, even if we don’t call it that.

The Bible is replete with the call to leave sin behind and walk in love, peace, and righteousness. Jesus himself called people to change things about their lives–to walk in his way. This acknowledgement that not all things in their lives were as they should be was not an act of hatred but an act of love. He, more than anyone else, could and can see what people could be if sin were completely stripped away, and he hates the sin for what it does to the people he loves.

And this is what I wrote in response:

While it has been used against LGBT persons like myself, I still think the phrase has value because, well, it’s what God call us to do. We are to love one another, but that doesn’t mean we ignore sin- I think we have to be able to lovingly hold each other accountable. Too much of our culture has become about self-esteem (which has found its way into religion) and not about how we can lift each other up to be the kind of people God wants us to be.

Like I said in my response, I do think the practice has been misused.  And yet, the idea has some value.  As Trevor noted, Jesus did call people to righteousness as much as he reached out to sinners.  While I don’t think being gay is a sin, I am a sinner and I do think God calls me to repentance, not for being gay but for missing the mark of what God wants for me.

Is there a way we can hold each other accountable and yet not be judgmental and condescending?  I’d like to think so, but how do we practice that?  Christian Piatt is correct to bring up that Jesus told folks not to worry about the splinter in our neighbor’s eyes and ignore the plank in our own.  But does that mean we never to talk about what might be going on in another person’s life?  What did Jesus mean when he said this?  When is it right to “butt in” and when is it right to stay out?

As you can see, I am not totally settled either way on this.  What are your thoughts?

Hyperballad

I’ve always been a Bjork fan and one of my favorites has been the song, Hyperballad, which came out in 1995-96.  I remember hearing it when I first moved to Minnesota in the winter of ’96 and it seemed like a song of hope in a kinda lonely period in my life.