This morning is one of those mornings when I hesitate between this public venue and my private journal which I turn to from time to time to express myself without restraint and a bit more clearly than I do here for fear of over stepping appropriate boundaries.
Nevertheless if you are reading this I probably haven’t written privately this morning but have sought a way to put my thoughts down here.
I seem to be feeling some complex stuff. Partly, I realized that though I love my job, the content of it, what I think of as the theology or the meaning, leaves me indifferent.
Liturgical understanding attracts me with its coherence and deeply rooted history. I have consistently pointed out to my friend and boss Jen that some of our prayers during the Advent season contradict what I have been taught. We pray as though Jesus is coming to be born among us. Jen has chosen seasonal prayers which confusedly pray for the coming of Christ, but not in the eschatological sense of the end time, but more of being born in our hearts.
This is just the stuff that leaves me indifferent and bored. The curates seem to share this theology. I know that many in the congregation seem to be mostly interested in a comforting and comfortable religion.
For me it provides a cloying annoying counterpart to the overwhelming commercialization of this time of year.
There’s more I could write that demonstrates how off balance I feel. I find myself rejecting most of what religion has to offer. I do love the music and poetry of it. But only what I think of as the good stuff. And in order to be good in my mind, it needs to make some sort of basic sense.
Also, I’m not at all satisfied with my skills in church music. Yesterday I felt that I had failed to prepare the choir for the anthem. Granted there were extenuating circumstances of people hung over or just plain absent due to partying. Also sporadic attendance at rehearsals hurt us. After the anthem I could see that singers were disappointed in their performance. i tried to make reassuring honest and comments to them. But I am haunted by the notion that if anyone can make a choir better it is usually up to the conductor to find strategies to do so.
My solo organ playing yesterday wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Rhonda’s recital restored my faith in the genre. She played some pieces that I knew pretty well and I especially enjoyed the Distler.
The local reformed tradition seemed to be more in touch with the theology of Advent I understand. They included a reading from Matthew about the end of the world. And of course readings and collects in the Book of Common Prayer are clear about that. The use of the O Antiphons and the vigorous organ accompaniment of Gregorian Chant along with the unusual use of the solo voice on it (nicely sung by John Hoyer) struck me as curious.
Not sure what people think the “O Antiphons” actually are. Possibly they associate them with the images in the hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” which is derived from some of them.
Rhonda played her chant accompaniments well (Hi Rhonda!) if a bit fast for the congregation to pick up, but I realized that I couldn’t use that big a sound on the genre. And my understanding is that solos in chant are historically very rare pretty much limited to the Exultet and an occasional psalm verse.
But I’m guessing I get more eccentric and out of touch with each passing year. I admit to being baffled when I try to understand the church in the present much less where it is going.