This is an assessment of a recent event. It was mostly written the morning after the “Sing to the Lord a New Song” event, held Sunday evening, October 25, at the Southside Church of Christ, Rochester, NY. . . See this prior post for the brief background.)
I’ll rate my experience last night in seven categories on a 14-pt scale, in honor of my father’s quirky practice. 🙂
- Biracial unity feeling: 11 *
- Worship quality: 3.5 (I know, I know … but I do feel well qualified, not presuming to judge individuals’ hearts, to assess corporate worship quality)
- Repertoire: 4 (one of the best songs led, incidentally, was by no means written in the last 40 years … rather, the particular arrangement was the thing that was that young)
- Musicality: 2
- Sonic damage to eardums: 9 (I was close to stopping my ears–too many people singing brassily in unison can actually hurt … definitely would have had to take my baby boy’s developing ears out, if he’d been there)
- Organization: 6 (caveat: I suspect it wouldn’t have been feasible to get past 8 on this particular occasion!)
- Attendance: 13 (it’s always encouraging, in a solidarity sort of way, to have several congregations represented, with a few people’s having traveled a good distance
* Regarding the unity feeling … I rated this based on the overall sense I got in the room, which was filled with perhaps 400 believers. However, my personal feeling was more like a 5. The room was not particularly well integrated by skin color, which is understandable and not necessarily a bad thing. Mostly, though, what colored (sorry) my impression was overhearing a conversation among four black women. Part of the conversation went something like this:
“Yeah, the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are Churches of Christ.”
Check that. It was an older woman teaching a younger, clearly less biblically knowledgeable woman to identify a modern-day, yellow-pages-identified, institutional group with seven churches of the 1st century. This smacks (hard!) of blind sectarianism, and it would seem to contra-indicate that youth should listen more to age and experience, as Paul encouraged in a letter to Timothy. I know I wouldn’t want my son sitting in a Bible class with that lady teaching.
. . .
And another comment I overhead:
“Yeah, I hope get gets what he deserves.”
This was referring, I gathered, to the murderer of one of the women’s relatives, who is going to trial this week. Were I politically charged and connected, I would probably support the state’s right (not the Christian’s) to execute for certain crimes. That’s not the issue here. The problem is the woman’s lack of Christian mercy, lack of desire for the murderer’s repentance, and lack of even a hint of a desire for ultimate mercy to be shown to the criminal by God. Very distasteful. I live in the country, and I presume these women live closer to the city. I have not walked many miles in their shoes. But a different habitational, cultural context is no excuse for desiring damnation and punishment for another. It is one thing to express sympathy for an untimely loss by death, but it is quite another–and contra Jesus–to wish death to another human, prior to this soul’s repentance.
These overhearings certainly lessened my personal sense of unity, but I gathered that most of the rest of the attenders, including the inviting, black brother I sat beside, were duly enthused and inspired. Lots of exclamations of “beautiful” and “yes” and “amen” were popcorning in the sanctuary. I think one of the best things about the evening was the intentionality and emphasis with which a couple of the men read Psalms aloud. It takes a good deal for me to get much from someone else’s oral reading, and I did get a good deal from those.