Thursday, November 02, 2006

At the table, but not in the door

I think it is safe to say that most of the churches in our area make no connection whatsoever between baptism and the Lord's Supper. It also seems to be believed that neither baptism or the Lord's Supper actually accomplish anything.

I grew up in the Evangelical Free church, and I was a participant at the Lord's table for several years before I was baptised. I don't think I was harmed by this in any way, but it does now seem strange to me that we did things this way.

"As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ." Baptism is "putting on Christ". This is entry language. Baptism is the door into Christ and all His benefits. And one of His benefits is surely that He feeds us at His table.

If we look at the way it was in the old covenant, it seems to me that participation at the Passover (for instance) was not allowed for those who were uncircumcised. You had to have God's mark of ownership on you before you could partake. There are connections made in the new covenant between baptism and circumcision, in that they are both entry rituals into God's church.

If baptism is an entry ritual into the church,which it seems to be, then how does one get to the table before they get in the door?

The only way I can think of to make this work is to make baptism mean nothing, or to make it mean some response to God on MY part rather than His work on my behalf, neither of which I am willing to do. I think that evangelicals should be baptising their children much younger than they do, and then allowing them to the Lord's table.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dark stuff and children's music

I have found that there are some folks, particularly of the evangelical sort, who register their objections to my music on these grounds; that children should not be confronted with evil and darkness until they are old enough to understand it. They themselves are quite content to go where the Bible Story Book leads them, through sanitized versions of anything dark in the Bible, and altogether leaving out a whole bunch of stories which seem to be deemed unredeemable. How do you tell a kid about the story of Ehud and the fat Eglon without getting into potty language? How do you tell about Jael and Sisera without bringing up a whole strain of subjects that I'd rather not have to talk to my kid about just now, thanks!

It is a good thing to protect your children from evil influences, it is a bad thing if any part of the Bible is included in ones understanding of "evil influences".

I was reflecting on this reluctance of ours awhile back when I thought of the story of Samuel as a boy. You remember it...

"Samuel! Samuel!"

Samuel runs to Eli, "Here I am, for you called me!"

"I didn't call you, go back to bed".

...and so forth, until Eli realizes that God is talking to Samuel, and instructs him how to respond the next time the Lord should call. Samuel does so, and the Lord speaks to Samuel. Do you recall what God told him?

I'm going to bring disaster on Eli; his sons will die before he does, none of his descendants will live to be an old man, they will be cut off from the priesthood, they will be sickly, etc.

Now, we can only guess at how old Samuel was at this point, but he was certainly a pre-teen, and God did not think it out of place to fill this boy's ears with a message that would make the ears of everyone who heard it to tingle. It wasn't uplifting; in fact, it made Samuel quite afraid to tell what he had been told.

I think that we need a whole army of songwriters for kids who would take this piece of knowledge to heart. There are a thousand Bible stories, and a multitude of ways to approach each one, and they are full of murder and lust and fear and threat and conquest and lies, all of which need to be set forth faithfully, with appropriate music, so that kids will grow up hearing the Bible's actual story. They need to be taught the whole counsel of God, not the Reader's Digest version.

It seems to me that it is almost always the case that if you miss the dark parts in your telling of the Story, you miss the point of the Story. Veggie Tales may be entertaining, but if you are expecting them to give your kids an understanding of God's Story you expect in vain.

So, some of my songs are dark... but I have a good model to follow. Thank you Lord, for what You told Samuel!

The way home...

was not for the faint of heart.

We left Seattle at 1:42 PM Friday, with the intention of driving straight through to Grande Prairie, expecting to arrive at about 5 AM Saturday. All went swimmingly until we turned onto highway 40 just outside of Hinton at just before 1 AM. The snow began to fall, growing heavier with every mile. We were soon reduced to moving at about 50 KMH max. The road disappeared entirely under a white blanket, broken only by the tracks of trucks that had preceded us by a few minutes. We eventually caught up to most of these, even at our slow pace, since they were in the ditches on either side of the highway. The snow was very wet, heavy, and slippery; and Tim's car had left whatever tread used to be on the tires on roads far and wide. Thus we began to notice our difficulty climbing hills, which proved too great to overcome a while later.

Just after 3 AM, in snow about a foot deep, we arrived at the bottom of the hill below the town of Grand Cache, Alberta. We made four attempts at trying to climb that hill, getting as good a run at it as we could under those circumstances, but each time we stopped before we reached halfway. Every time we stopped, we got stuck. The car just couldn't get a grip, and neither could we when we got out to push. We turned the car around by pushing it, and eventually found our way to a stop on a roadside at the bottom of the hill. About 20 minutes passed when a 4 wheel drive truck arrived, some sort of guardian angel for lost and stuck sheep. He hooked a tow rope onto us and pulled us up the hill into Grand Cache, where we noted the barricade in the other lane saying "Road Closed"... It was 5:30 AM.

We were set free by the truck at the top of the hill, but not by the streets. Every time we stopped we got stuck. Get out and push, hop into the slowly moving car, drive to the next stop sign, get out and push, jump in the car... We went looking for a place to park, since we heard that the road from Grand Cache to Grande Prairie was closed as well, but it is hard to find a place anywhere off the beaten path when there is more than a foot of wet snow on the ground. We eventually found a place on a roadside behind a big truck. Tim and I got out and went to find some breakfast at an open restaraunt at about 7AM, while Leo stayed in the car to catch a few zzz's.

When we came out the car had moved deeper into the snowbank. Leo told us that he had been awakened by the car lurching, and had discovered that the big truck behind which we had parked was backing up and he didn't see us... Amazingly, no damage was done to the car. I guess the ground was so slippery that it moved quite easily...

We then pushed our way out of this ditch with the help of several other folk who saw our predicament, and drove up to the gas station to fill up. We pushed the car away from there and pulled up in the deep snow in a parking place in front of the gas station. The snow was still falling heavily. We turned the radio on to listen for road reports and hunkered down to get a bit of uncomfortable sleep. It was probably about 9:30AM.

We had been told that they were not expecting to open the road to Grande Prairie until about 6 that evening, so we were suprised when Leo got off his phone and said that the RCMP were declaring that the road was open just after noon. So we hit the road again, about 110 miles south of Grande Prairie. I phoned Val as we left Grand Cache and told her that we were coming and asked her to pray for our safety.

The road was clean enough to go 60KMH for about 6 or 7 miles, then it began to get narrower and narrower. Our path was fairly clear and getting clearer as we drove; we soon found ourselves behind the snowplow. This slowed progress, but we were happy to be making progress. We followed him for several miles, until he turned aside into a roadside turnout. When we went around him we were at the top of a long gentle hill, so we manged to make some headway for awhile, but when the road began to climb we slowed to a stop in a hurry. We were high-centered on the ridge of snow between our wheels.

With some more help from other motorists we got turned around and went back to find our snowplow... We got in behind him and stayed there for about an hour, until he had reached the end of his loop. The road, at that point, had been plowed probably a couple of hours before, and was passable, but with a few inches on top. We were able to travel at a reasonable speed, or so it seemed to us, until we started slipping from side to side, doing a complete 180, and slamming into a snowbank while going down one hill. We backed up traffic in both directions for awhile, until somebody with a tow rope and a hook came along to fish us out of the toolies...

We met another plow truck coming in our direction from the other way, and we managed to travel in his tracks for the remainder of the way, though not without a few near stops on some of the hills. Twice, Tim and I jumped out of the car when it was down to walking speed in order to push it up the hill, and the combined pushing help and absence of our weight in the car was sufficient for the car to make the top of the hill.

We arrived at home in Grande Prairie at about 5PM, only half a day late, exhausted, but home. Thank the Lord for our fine driver Leo, and our safe arrival!

CREC here we come!

Tim, Leo, and I got back Saturday from our meeting with the Anselm Presbytery of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches. We were seated there as a candidate church, with the possibility of becoming full voting members next year. We had an excellent time visiting and getting to know these brethren with whom we have so much in common. The service on Thursday night hosted by Eastside Evangelical Fellowship was a delight... It is a glorious thing to have a congregation dominated by mens voices singing like they mean it.

Quite an international flavour there, as well. There were two Russian churches and two Polish churches welcomed into membership, and one from Japan was welcomed last year. We will be a second church from Canada, Lord willing. There was also a delegation from Tasmania there, scoping it all out.

Altogether very worthwhile.