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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:58 pm 
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When I was a kid, I went to a Presbyterian church. This past weekend, I went to a family reunion and found myself in a Presbyterian church on Sunday morning. I have not been a regular church-goer since the early 90's, but when I was a kid, the order of worship went something like this: prelude, call to worship, prayers and offertory, confessional, assurance of pardon, reading a verse, the five minutes for the kids (ie, Rev. McDonald very kindly and gently making sure us kids got a taster of the adult sermon and made sure we were learning things in Sunday school), and then that was when I typically took off with all the other kids and some of the adults for Sunday school. After we left came the doxology, the sermon, the lord's prayer, the benediction, and it was over. Hymns were peppered in.

The confessional was something we all recited as a group, reading from the church program. The gist of it was "Oh Heavenly Father, I am a terrible person and everything I do is bad." The assurance of pardon was, essentially, "You've repented, all's forgiven, do better next week." If you're old enough to understand what you're reading off (it was very eloquent) it's a bit disconcerting but, I understand, very Presbyterian.

Flash forward to 2010. The order of worship was more or less the same and I stunned both Mom and myself by remembering all the bits that weren't written out or in the hymnal. But there was something missing. Something only I caught during the service: there was no confessional and accompanying assurance of pardon. When I pointed this out, after the service, to my mom, aunt, and sister while we were driving to a restaurant for lunch, both my mom and aunt assured me it had happened and I'd just missed it because the confessional is, in the words of my aunt, "very Presbyterian". But then we double-checked our programs and I was right.

You coulda heard a pin drop. Mom's not a regular church-goer. My aunt C is. But she had no idea what the deal was either. And I forgot to ask my uncle the pastor because after we arrived at the restaurant all I could think about was food and discussing hippies with my cousins. So my question is this: did something change in the last 18 years since I was attending church regularly? Or was this something screwy? It was, for some reason, a communion Sunday - is that part skipped for communion? 'Cuz, IIRC, when I was a kid, on communion Sundays we still had the confessional bit but we skipped the sermon. This particular church is not exactly a new-fangled, liberal sort of church either. In fact, it's conservative to the point where my aunt C almost left, as did my Mom, my sis, and myself. So I doubt they would have veered from tradition unless the people in charge said so. But maybe I'm wrong?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:11 pm 
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We don't do the corporate confession at my Lutheran church any more, either. In our case it's because the pastor strongly believes that it puts the wrong focus on what's going on, like looking at the reality of God's grace through the wrong end of a telescope. Asking for forgiveness is part of the Lord's prayer, which we pray every week all together, but that's it.

Being forgiven is a free gift, not something begged. As a parent I don't make my children beg me to love them and forgive them when they do something wrong. I just do it, and do my best to do it freely and completely. And God's a lot better at that than I am. A whole whole whole lot better.

But we aren't Calvinists, so I probably have the wrong take on it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:41 pm 
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[OT] There's actually a word called doxology??? :shock: That's way too much like a word I read in a book once where the woman mentioned her "doxyology instructor" who taught her sexual techniques.

Now I know. The author did that deliberately, didn't he? There are so many times authors thumb their noses at religion and I don't even come close to getting it because of my basic lack of knowledge of the subject. Doxology is hymns in praise of God. Doxyology is sex in praise of God. :rofl: That's got to be what he meant by that! I just assumed it meant instruction in how to be a doxy. There are layers and layers to some things, which you don't even know about without the right background! :D Thanks for helping me get the joke (decades later) even though you didn't mean to. [/OT]


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:49 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
Being forgiven is a free gift, not something begged. As a parent I don't make my children beg me to love them and forgive them when they do something wrong. I just do it, and do my best to do it freely and completely. And God's a lot better at that than I am. A whole whole whole lot better.


That is true, Prim, but personally I really value the time of corporate confession in the Anglican liturgy. It means a lot to me precisely because I grew up in a Nonconformist church where we never made public confession because we thought we didn't need to ... because of God's grace, we are forgiven, so there's no need.

I changed my mind about this when I joined Anglican churches and realised that the liturgy had tremendous riches, including the prayer of confession.

I actually really think it's important for the Christian community to make public confession together.

And I am certainly no Calvinist. ;) Heavens, no. :D I'm a mildly charismatic, Nonconformist, evangelical, sort-of-feminist Anglican. :P

Anything in the liturgy can become mere rote. Anything. And often does. :neutral:

But there's something important for me in making confession publicly as a community ... in addition to my private prayers.

There are many variations on confession prayers in the Church of England's Common Worship. One of my favourites is:

Leader: Come, let us return to the Lord and say:

All Lord our God,
in our sin we have avoided your call.
Our love for you is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early.
Have mercy on us;
deliver us from judgement;
bind up our wounds and revive us;
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


And, modelled on Cranmer:

All Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have wandered and strayed from your ways
like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things
that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
that we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us sinners.
Spare those who confess their faults.
Restore those who are penitent,
according to your promises declared to mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may live a disciplined, righteous and godly life,
to the glory of your holy name.
Amen.


That's a real 'no messing around' kind of prayer. ;)

Challenging, sure, but confession should be.

Maria wrote:
[OT] There's actually a word called doxology??? :shock: That's way too much like a word I read in a book once where the woman mentioned her "doxyology instructor" who taught her sexual techniques.


:shock:

:rofl:

One learns something new every day on the Internets. ;) :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:57 pm 
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I was raised Presbyterian, became a Quaker as an adult, but then was a regular attender and Minister of Music at a Presbyterian Church in Boston for 10 years (before I moved to the UK.)

We always had a group and then a silent confession and assurance of pardon as part of the service. AFAIK, it is part of the regular Presbyterian liturgy. Sounds like something got missed in the service you attended.

Maria - the "doxology" is traditionally sung after the offering is taken. The one I am most used to singing is to a well-known tune called "Old Hundredth" and goes:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye Heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:37 pm 
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That's the doxology I grew up with too.

That particular church in that particular town had a fundamentalist bent and, according to my mom, always has so I can't imagine that they'd just forget a piece of liturgy but who knows. There was some sort of Presbyterian General Assembly earlier this month. Maybe it was decided to drop the confessional. I know they decided to ordain homosexuals, something that had the pastor at this particular church so up in arms he incorporated a deeply encoded rant, complete with waving around and thumping on the cover of a Bible, in his sermon.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:04 pm 
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River wrote:
There was some sort of Presbyterian General Assembly earlier this month. Maybe it was decided to drop the confessional.


There are several branches of Presbyterianism...I wonder which one this was/

Quote:
I know they decided to ordain homosexuals,


Have they? My understanding was that it was still in discussion. I'll have to ask my former Pastor what is going on in the Presbytery. I wish my Dad was still alive - he was a Presbyterian to his core.

Quote:
something that had the pastor at this particular church so up in arms he incorporated a deeply encoded rant, complete with waving around and thumping on the cover of a Bible, in his sermon.


Oh dear. Well, I hope it was at least entertaining. ;)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:20 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
River wrote:
There was some sort of Presbyterian General Assembly earlier this month. Maybe it was decided to drop the confessional.


There are several branches of Presbyterianism...I wonder which one this was/

I think it was the big main-line one.

Quote:

Have they? My understanding was that it was still in discussion. I'll have to ask my former Pastor what is going on in the Presbytery. I wish my Dad was still alive - he was a Presbyterian to his core.

Yep. They need to be partnered but it was voted in, 53% for and 46% against.

Quote:
Quote:
something that had the pastor at this particular church so up in arms he incorporated a deeply encoded rant, complete with waving around and thumping on the cover of a Bible, in his sermon.


Oh dear. Well, I hope it was at least entertaining. ;)

My self-control was sorely tested. I did not giggle and I almost, but did not quite, roll my eyes.

He also dissed Carl Sagan, which made things very entertaining indeed when, after the service, I was being introduced around as my mother's daughter* and, when people asked me what I did, I told them I was a scientist. Awkward moments abounded, though my tone was polite and cheerful. What was I supposed to do? Lie? It's not like I could come up with some gentler code-word. My official job title is "research chemist" for pete's sake.

*For some reason, this confused people 'cuz I look more like my dad than my mom. L got the "you look just like your mother" and I got the "where did you come from?" stare. Amusing, that (seriously, if you saw my entire immediate family standing together you wouldn't be wondering about much of anything).

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:44 pm 
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Off topic, I find this attitude of disdain towards scientists very, well, disturbing. I've never-ever come across it personally, but have seen it mentioned so many times in the forum here that I've come to understand it as something people expect.

Back home, education is respected like.... the pinnacle of life.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:46 pm 
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How could they not think being a scientist was cool? :scratch:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:16 pm 
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I think their reaction was more embarrassment than disdain - their pastor was insulting Carl Sagan because Sagan didn't believe in miracles (Thomas Jefferson also got slammed for the same reason), they may or may not have been nodding along (I was up front so I couldn't tell) and then after the service they find out that there was, in fact, a scientist in the room. A scientist whose grandfather is highly respected in that community. They probably thought I was offended, but I'd been bracing myself for something like that. I wish he hadn't felt compelled to go there but I've seen/heard worse on teh intertubes. The comments about Jefferson were more surprising. Seems like the right wingers can't decide if they love or hate him.

Incidentally, the last time I went to a service at this church, more than ten years ago, the pastor then also dissed on some of the Founding Fathers. And now, same church, different preacher, it happens again. I'm wondering if this is a weekly occurrence or I've just got the sampling error from hell. Probably the latter.

Contrast that with a sermon I sat in on at my aunt's church. Presbyterian, but different place and different minister. In order to encourage the congregation to collectively get over themselves, he talked about how the prophets were a bunch of cracked pots but God spoke to them anyway.

Mahima, the US has a complicated relationship with intellectuals in general. We always have. It's weird.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:24 pm 
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Maria wrote:
How could they not think being a scientist was cool? :scratch:


Word. :)



And being a scientist doesn't mean you agree with Carl Sagan, for goodness sake. He was fairly skeptical of God as an "outsized white guy with a flowing beard" or some such, but lots of people who believe in God think that too. I think he reported himself as an agnostic. Well, lots of people are agnostics, and not all of them are scientists. And vice versa.

I'm not sure what being a research chemist has to do with Carl Sagan at all, actually (wasn't he an astronomer, or astrophysicist?), or what any of that has to do with people talking to you at church.

I get so confused.


ETA: Ooops... cross-posted with River. Maybe they were embarrassed?? I guess. I'm still confused.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:30 pm 
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I think they were embarrassed. No one likes to offend guests and Iowans pride themselves on being nice, down-to-earth types.

Also, some of them were talking to me while I was trying desperately to get up to the front after service so I could help my aunt put her bells away. I may have let some of my impatience through and they may have misconstrued.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:14 am 
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In the Catholic mass, the penitential rite generally takes the form:

    I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do. I ask blessed Mary ever virgin, the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Next year, they are likely to change the English translation to:

    I confess to almighty God
    and to you, my brothers and sisters,
    that I have greatly sinned
    in my thoughts and in my words,
    in what I have done
    and in what I have failed to do,
    through my fault, through my fault,
    through my most grievous fault;
    therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
    all the Angels and Saints,
    and you, my brothers and sisters,
    to pray for me to the Lord our God.


In other words, someone determined that 'through my own fault' was a fairly wimpy translation of 'mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.' It's neat to see that some form of the Confiteor survives in most liturgical traditions within Christianity. Well, okay, so maybe Lutheran, Anglican and Presbyterian isn't 'most,' but it's still neat. I don't think I've ever been to a Presbyterian service before, so I don't know what they're like.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:58 pm 
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[quote="MithLuin"]In other words, someone determined that 'through my own fault' was a fairly wimpy translation of 'mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.'

I would agree with that. 8) :)

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