And so Friday is upon us. One of the several things that I really do miss from my decades in the work world, is the sense of release and completion on Friday. That is, for the jobs that I worked that were Monday through Friday. My last job had be working Saturdays more often than not, mandatory but not paid by the way. And some others, not counting the times I was working two jobs (or more) were all kinds of weird days and hours. Like Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, for example. But Friday always was nice. When I was with the General Motors division 1984-1990, we were required to wear a tie every day, but when "casual Friday" became a thing, we could get by without a tie on that day. Still not jeans and t-shirts, but khakis and, eventually, polo shirts. Now, I wear whatever. Loses some of the sense of place.
We have near here one of those sub-church operations that is co-existent, meaning they're using existing facilities, with one of the so-called "mainline" denominations. I drive right past the facility (about two blocks from her) every Sunday morning. That facility, one evidently intended for a much larger congregation than had been attending Sunday mornings, had been looking pretty puny. About 2-1/2 months ago, the use began. I saw at least three times the number of vehicles parked than I had previously seen, and perhaps more. Those walking in tended to be "young", meaning early-to-mid 20's, often with small kids. Sounds great. But I also noticed that suits and ties were unknown, more likely jeans and flannel shirts (this is Ohio in winter) and ball caps on backwards. Now, I don't have a problem with that, necessarily. I wish them well.
But I know a few who do have a problem with that: I have one friend who grew up in the Roman Catholic church, though he's avoided attendance for at least 20 years, who goes on at length about the wickedness of attending worship services in jeans, and all the rest of that. Awful, terrible stuff. Of course, he's been in a sexual affair with a married woman for at least five years. Which tempers my respect just a teeny bit. (I know both of them, and her husband too).
At what point is our dress in worship services (or any other time for that matter) a function of our respect for the Lord and for what is going on, and at what point do we teeter between putting on a show of piety, or a show of something else?
These cultural matters are something I've had before us my whole life, and in some truly odd ways. Does our Christian walk cause us to change? We read just the other day of a day when Moses spent time face-to-face with the Lord, and as a result, his face shone so brightly that others couldn't stand to look at him. Are we so close to Him that it shows?
Spent some of that middle-of-the-night semi-wake time thinking about what we mean by "spiritual songs". The phrase comes from Ephesians 5:19 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" and gave me some thought. I've heard some people, some that I know personally, who truly believe that any "church music" to be considered worthy, has to be, or able to be, accompanied by pipe organ. Real "high church" stuff. Others, and I know some of them too, consider that the only songs acceptable to the Lord are to be found in the Psalms, and nowhere else. By that standard, "Amazing Grace" is forbidden. I don't agree, but I do agree that there is some so-called Christian music that seems more for entertainment than for worship, and not a cry from the heart. We can defer the matter, I guess, and say that a hymn is one that is found in the hymnal in the church house. Not a great answer, but I'll slide.
But what is a spiritual song? Is it, perhaps, something that's not great teaching theology, but something that comes from the heart, and that expresses something reverent and sincere, and is God-honoring?
It came to me, as often things do, in something that I occasionally listen to. Brooks & Dunn singing "I Believe". Not great teaching theology, but expressive of something that touches the heart. I had that running through my mind for part of the night. The mood or whatever you call it, is that there are times when nothing makes sense to us, when we can't understand, but we still believe. Sometimes that is all we have, and it's enough. Not great situations. But I note as well that we sometimes grow more in our faith when circumstances force us to exercise that faith, to hang on to what we do have, what -- and Who -- we know.
Our reading for today in the Old Testament is chapters 11, 12, and 13 of Numbers.
In spite of everything that the Lord was doing, had done, and had proclaimed, there were still those who whined and grumbled and thought that they knew better. That hardly ever turns out well. Didn't here either.
And then, in 13, spies are sent out to check out the land of promise. And here again, in spite of everything, the sin of disbelief. Don't mock them. All of us, me especially, have done this.
This didn't turn out well either.
Our reading in the New Testament is verses 21-43 of March chapter 5.