Thursday, December 27, 2012

Advice for Worship Leaders—from a Neopagan

On Christmas, Santa brought me an African sistrum, a kind of rattle, this one made with flattened bottle caps. 

Not having any experience with sistra, I turned to the all-knowing Internet and learned that these rhythm instruments are used in both pagan and Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox ceremonies. Ethiopia’s falasha Jews also use the sistrum in their synagogues.

I found an instructional video by Sharon LaBorde, a Kemetic neopagan (km.t being the native name for ancient Egypt). In addition to demonstrating the proper wrist action and the ancient rhythm patterns for playing the sistrum, Ms. LaBorde had this sage advice. Experiment with your own rhythms if you want to, but practice them to get them right. “Nothing screws up a ritual ambience,” she said, “like missing a beat.”

There’s a word of wisdom for us who lead music in worship.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

That's Amore

That's Amore:  A devotional meditation for the Christianity Today Christmas lunch
 December 14, 2012

 [Lead in: 45 second clip of Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore”]

 There’s a prayer that Episcopalians use during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Here’s a condensed version of that prayer:
 “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light … that in the last day, when Christ shall come again … to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal.
  That prayer is a paraphrase of a biblical exhortation. Romans 13:12: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light.”
 A couple of weeks back, our church secretary included that prayer in our congregation’s weekly e-newsletter. But there was a slight hitch. Instead of typing “the armor of light,” she wrote “the amor”—A.M.O.R—“of light.” As an editor who is always alert for typos I tut-tutted to myself. But almost immediately I saw a sacred pun rather than a mistake.

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