During the summer, our church has been offering movies on Wednesday night (yes we have a license to do so). This week, the movie was Jesus Camp.
I couldn’t attend with the others in the church, but it still reminded me that I had wanted to watch this when it first became available on video. So I watched it last night.
Now I wish I had been there when other members of my congregation had attended. I would have liked to have heard some of the discussion.
There is no doubt that in some ways we should be horrified. My wife walked through during a scene in which a young Pentecostal girl was explaining how churches that are still and quiet are dead churches, and it infuriated her. And rightly so. This child had been told that there was only one way in which to worship.
But there is much to commend in how the people in this movie think. They really care about what their children are doing, how they are raised, what will influence them. The children speak Biblical, if not always graceful, language.
We are afraid to form anyone’s mind. We want everyone to figure things out for themselves. This is not the Way of Christ. We pray that He will form us, and will guide us in forming others. It doesn’t always have to be done with a hammer, as it is by many in this film, but we are being formed by something, and if it’s not Christ, we should beware.
I take great joy in knowing that my children know the Lord’s Prayer as well as the Apostle’s Creed. I sat with my daughter, who is 12, at church this Sunday and it was nice to hear her voice repeating the prayer that has guided the church for two thousand years.
A long time ago, I learned the Lord’s Prayer in Old English as part of some course work. It drove home to me the fact that this prayer is older than one of the dominant world languages, and it will survive longer than this language.
Prayers that we learn, memorize and have infused into us are valuable. There was a time when the Bible, Wordsworth and Shakespeare were the most quoted sources in Western culture. Now it’s far more likely to be a pop star, a beer commercial or an action movie.
I’m lazy. I don’t take time to pray, I don’t devote myself fully like I should. Maybe it’s because of my laziness that I see the value in such things. This morning I went to the Divine Hours site and as is usually the case, the morning prayer was this:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
I love this prayer. It’s a regular in the Divine Hours, and I have prayed it with friends who are near and far. I’ve prayed it in church and in Sunday School. I don’t have it memorized. I don’t intend to work at memorizing it. I hope it will be infused in me through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes I get started on lists of blogs and before you know it I can’t even remember where I started. This weekend I came across two lists that were useful. They’re from way back in March, which makes them ancient in internet terms, but very useful.
10 Ways to Draw Me to your Church
1o Ways to Keep Me from Discovering your Church
The other thing I did this weekend is finalized my plans to go to the Ekklesia Project gathering in Chicago. This will be my third year and I think I look forward to each gathering more than the next. The gathering this year will look at the work of the congregational formation initiative, which seems to be going well. I look forward to hearing more about how we can help our congregations live life fully in the Kingdom of God.
Phyllis Tickle has done good work in helping people observe fixed hour prayer. She has a website set up that allows you to follow along, but I highly recommend the books.
Try it and see what you think.