This is the last post about my weekend and then I'll move on with life.
Sunday morning we went to Berean Community Church where Jim is an elder. The sermon that morning was on prayer. Pastor Kevin began with Romans 12:12 and the command to be devoted to prayer and proceeded to tell us why and how to be devoted. We should be devoted to prayer because it is a command from God and He is to be obeyed, because life is too hard for us to handle on our own, and because "God can do in a moment what would take us an eternity." Kevin then spoke about how to pray and mentioned a couple of acronyms that can be useful for prayer. One that I've heard a lot and used often is ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Another was CREPE: Communion, Repentance, Engagement, Praise, Empowerment. CREPE was new to me. He focused on FADES:
-Freely and Form: we should pray freely but we should also use forms for prayer. Some of the forms suggested were to use the prayers of the Bible, scripture commands (I found this one intriguing, to pray through commands from scripture asking God's forgiveness for our failures and for strength and opportunity to obey), warnings and promises; pray through prayer lists; pray through prayer books like Operation World; pray using patterns from scripture like the Lord's Prayer or Acts 1:8.
-Alone and Assembled
-Desperate and Delighted
-Explosive and Extended: i.e. short, quick prayers like Nehemiah 2:4 or long like Daniel 10:2-4, 12-14.
-Spontaneous and Scheduled.
It was a good message and went along well with the sermons I heard in May and June in my own church as part of John's series on How to Grow Spiritually.
I enjoyed the musical portion of the service though I found it amusing that during Kevin's prayer for our country the keyboardist was playing the hymn "Be Still My Soul" which is to the tune of Sibelius' Finlandia hymn. Berean has a much longer time for people to shake hands and greet one another than other churches I've been to. I appreciate that.
After service was Sunday School. Jim is teaching a four week session on the Reformation. When I talked to him on the phone before going up he had told me this and suggested I might want to be a guest lecturer. He often tries to draft me to teach when I visit. I'm always reluctant to do so but he talked me into it this time. I was reading a book on vocation by one of the religion professors at St. Olaf and Jim suggested I talk about that since that was an important emphasis of Luther. So we ended up doing a split session. Jim talked about Luther's life and accomplishments and I talked about three Reformation emphases/innovations that are important today. I talked about Bible translation, congregational singing, and vocation. Even though the early church had eagerly translated the scriptures into vernacular languages with particular highlights in the Syriac Peshitta, Jerome's Latin vulgate, Ulfilas' Gothic translation, and Cyril and Methodius' development of the Cyrillic alphabet in order to translate the scriptures into the Slavic languages, by the Reformation the Bible in the West was locked in Latin. The reformers believed so strongly in the power and place of the Bible in the Christian life that they made the effort to translate it into vernacular languages so common people could read the scriptures in their own languages. The two best known examples are Luther's German translation and William Tyndale's English version. The way for this was paved by the printing of Greek texts by Catholic scholars like Erasmus and the producers of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Also during the late Middle Ages western congregations didn't sing. Music in worship was reserved for professionals like the Roman choirs that sang Allegri or Palestrina's masses and priests and monks. Luther and Calvin realized that singing in worship was something for the whole people of God to participate in. So Luther began writing hymns set to German folk tunes that the people could remember and join in and that also served as a means to teach about doctrine while worshipping. One of Calvin's early achievements in Geneva was commissioning a musical arrangement of the Psalms in French for singing in worship. Luther and Calvin also developed the notion of life as a calling, or vocation (from the Latin vocare, to call). The belief of the time was that God called people to religious vocations such as priesthood or monastic life, possibly to lay orders like The Brethren of the Common Life, but that there were no secular callings only duties. Luther emphasized that cobbler had as much of a vocation as a priest. He was to work hard and make good shoes and so contribute to the life of God's people. If he was a husband and father as well as a cobbler then he was also called to serve and lead his family. Luther saw that we were each called to serve God and our communities and families in different ways, the minister to preach the word, the farmer to produce food, the mother to teach and raise her children, the children to obey their parents and learn their way in the world. Each calling was equally from God and equally for service. He understood that primary calling is from scripture and is "in whatever you do, do it to the glory of God." Even in Protestant churches today this has often been obscured or lost by our emphasis on callings to pastoral ministry or missions but it is something we should regain.