Cnag na cùise
"Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary..." Psalm 150.1
Just finished Professor Bryan Spinks' book about the evolution of worship in the Church of Scotland. It was a disappointing read. Something as magisterial as the worship of Almighty God on a national scale ought to be as thrilling, inspiring and uplifting a topic as one could find. Instead I found myself ploughing interminably through notes of turgid committee meetings, most of which seemed about objecting to change and blocking reform, or appealing to foreign liturgical manuals and architectural styles. None of this is necessarily Spinks' fault, if that is how the story unfolds. What a pity it wasn't about the church leading the development of the creative arts, as one might expect of the entity which is devoted to worshipping the Creator of these gifts!
We cannot go back and re-write the story but we can learn from the past and do better today and tomorrow. King Canute memorably demonstrated that those who would oppose change are on a hiding to nothing. At least if you embrace it you are more likely to have a hand in influencing its nature and direction. As Christians, can we leapfrog the waves of artistic innovation so that, through the way we worship God in our churches and on our streets, we are heralding the author of creativity and the provider of the resources we all depend on to express it?
If the meeting I attended last night is anything to go by the signs are not encouraging. There is plenty of enthusiasm at the centre but it is tempered by and abundance of scepticism on the margins. What is lacking is imagination to see things really differently and the courage of conviction to make that new vision happen. Instead we are facing more of the same but in dwindling measure as we continue to retract. Christ's Church will go from glory to glory but our denomination seems destined, at best, to become a withered stump from which something new might, in time, sprout. The question facing us: will we wait for that to happen, or die and rise again?