Monday, December 10, 2007

Polka Dots and Funerals

Here are some of the Wandering Minstrels after last night's performance at St. Thomas'. They wore the vests as black (inside out) for the show, but turned them polka-dots out afterwards.

Probably, I won't be volunteering regularly anymore Sunday nights with the Minstrels. I may advise occasionally on drama and guitar-playing.

Afterwards, I had a pleasant visit of wine and cheese with Ven. Andrew and Mary Lou and Matt R., a sometime Minstrel and part time youth worker at St. Paul's.

I also attended a funeral on Saturday at St. Tom's for the father of a friend there. On Tuesday I had attended Judy Nichols' memorial service (led by a hospital chaplain).

I got to thinking: what is the New Testament command or approved example for having funerals (especially as a religious service)? I can't think of any, which realization I have stored away as yet another example of how difficult (if possible at all) to live consistently by that principle.

Therefore, I am even more persuaded to live and lead according a principle of freedom to practise in my own life and congregationally what is *helpful* for achieving the known goals and values of Scriptures, avoiding, of course, practices that are clearly prohibited.

I mean those prohibited in the New Covenant. Othewise, I wouldn't shave or wear mixed fabrics.

I am inclined to believe that we all do this to one extent or the other, even if we profess to live by the other principle. (We have buildings and Sunday Schools because they help us teach disciples, as in the Great Commission. We have funerals because they enable us to mourn with those who mourn [and likely it has never occurred to most of us to question the practice. It seem indecent.] I suspect that most of it is just rationalizing our own traditions.)

So, although there's a matter of degree re. inconsistency, I think it's because the principle is flawed and inherently leads to inconsistency. Therefore, I choose freedom.

There are pictures at the church blog of the Minstrels visit to Northwood.


shroomAzoom said...

I'm trying to understand your funeral thoughts.

Are you saying, funerals (and other things like Sunday school) are not commanded, approved or disapproved of, but only done by us because they may help us achieve other commanded or approved of things?

And as such, in the way we do these things (tradition, liturgy, seat-of-the-pants, etc) you see freedom?

reppepper said...

To best understand my comments, it is helpful to be familiar with "the Restoration Movement". This is not a criticism, as such, since some blogs would require familiarity with Roman Catholic or Baptist theology etc.

I had Eric in mind as a reader and he might wish to comment.

I think the Restoration Movement did bring freedom to some people because it said "You don't HAVE to have all these ceremonies, denominational structures etc. to be a Christian."

However, at times it went from there to saying "You MUST NOT do anything (esp. in 'church') that the New Testament does not specifically teach, no matter how edifying that practice may appear to be."

Therefore, some who follow this line of reasoning might actually be somewhat more consistent than most by meeting in homes, not having Sunday School, etc. etc., but I "bet" that eventually there is still something they practise that can't be supported by a positive NT command (or "approved example"). Funerals would be one instance.

Eric said...

If you are asking me to defend the principle, I don't think I can. There are basic flaws in the underlying perspective on scripture that we can come objectively to a passage without influence from our culture and our history and expect to see how the New Testament church lived and operated. The principle of freedom sounds good, but it also scares some people. Some people see freedom as license to do whatever tickles your fancy. In reality freedom is that which builds up both you and your brother/sister in Christ as well as shows to the world what God has to offer.

The kinds of things you are talking about are the happy inconsistencies that have caused many a church split especially south of the border.

reppepper said...

No, I didn't think you would/could defend the principle. I just thought you might have greater familiarity with it that might be help Shroom understand it.