Proskuneo Christos

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Oh wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Weekly Report 8

Ben Robinson
Weekly Report #8
11-20-05 through 11-26-05
"Discussion on Communion"

This practicum I actually accomplished last week but used it for my practicum experience this past week.

I had a discussion with my practicum advisor regarding communion. I asked him about the methodology and theology behind the practice at College Wesleyan Church. He informed me that College Wesleyan serves communion every two months, although in the Cathedral service it is served weekly. The main method of serving the communion is by passing the elements among the congregation. The method used in the Cathedral service is that of intinction.

My advisor explained to me that the reason they serve communion so irregularly in the main service is because it is viewed as merely symbolic. I found this quite disturbing for two reasons; 1) the Wesleyan Church as a denomination views communion as a sacrament and believes grace is communicated; 2) theologically I am very opposed to viewing communion as a mere symbol or ordinance and find this rejection of historical orthodoxy to be a serious error.

How can a local church be affiliated with a denomination if it does not share the theological convictions of that denomination? Does the church simply not know the position of the larger church polity? Or is it okay for the local church to vary slightly in theological matters? Is it okay for a local church to vary on such a serious theological doctrine?

Whatever your answers to the previous questions I feel they need to be adequately addressed by each and every one of us as pastor-theologians. I learned from this practicum that denominational affiliation does not necessarily dictate praxy and that that is an issue which requires further unpacking.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Weekly Report 7

Ben Robinson
Weekly Report #7
11-13-05 through 11-19-05
"Video Camera"

I had the privilege of operating the video camera during both services this past Sunday. Basically, I showed up knowing absolutely nothing about how to run a camera but did it anyway. It’s really not that hard, but nonetheless I was clueless about the technical aspects.

Initially there was a problem with the video feed. Someone had unplugged an important cord and therefore the video camera was not being fed to the various venues operating at College Wesleyan. Unfortunately the techies were not there this past Sunday and so we had to fool around trying to figure out how to get the camera to work. We successfully connected the video feed but then were not receiving any audio. Eventually that was solved as well and I was off and running taping the service.

Another glitch occurred when I realized how hard the camera was turning. The camera pivots on a stand but it was now turning very smoothly and so every time I moved the camera it would stick and create a jumpy motion for the audience viewing in the various venues. Eventually someone came and showed me how to “unlock” the pivot portion so that the camera moved smoothly. Like I said, not only do I not have any technical knowledge about these things but also no one really showed me what I was doing when I first arrived. So I was flying by the seat of my pants.

The second service went much more smooth and I was able to video tape without many problems. One of the things that concerned me was how dependent we are on technology in many of our church services. If the tech fails, the service is in trouble. In fact, if the tech fails in College Wesleyan the other venues will receive no sermon at all. Can we really put that much trust in our technology? Technology can certainly aid us in our ministry endeavors but I am wary of when it becomes the foundation upon which our services rest. A service should be able to function with or without the technology.

I did learn that if you are going to be as dependent on technology as College Wesleyan is you had better make sure you have people around who understand that technology. We had no one, and we struggled to prepare things in time for the service. If you like technology have plenty of techies.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Weekly Report 6

Ben Robinson
Weekly Report #6
11-10-05
"Scripture Reading"

For my practicum I helped Dr. Schenck by reading scripture in the Cathedral service. The Cathedral service is a liturgical service held in College Wesleyan’s chapel during the 9:00 service time. I read an Old Testament passage, a New Testament epistle, and a Gospel reading. Considering my great love for liturgy this practicum was one which I enjoyed quite a bit.

I have begun to listen more carefully to the manner in which we read Scripture during a service. The reality is that the way Scripture is presented does determine in the part the receptivity of the congregation. Therefore, I attempted to read Scripture similar to the manner in which we had been taught in class. I made sure to emphasize different parts and to know where I was headed in the text. I enjoy reading the text in a service and felt that overall it went quite well. I was not nervous and because the service is liturgical I knew right when I would be reading.

While Scripture is a means of grace I believe that we at times hinder the reception of grace when we do not adequately approach the text. Scripture reading is not a small task and should be treated with reverence and awe. The power within the Scripture is not to be mishandled and is no to be underestimated. We should not flippantly approach the text and should always view the reading of Scripture as crucial to a service.

From this experience I learned that people appreciate the reading of Scripture in our services and that the manner in which a reader presents the Scriptures does determine in part the response from the congregation.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Weekly Report 5

Ben Robinson
Weekly Report #5
11-03-05
"Greeting"

I had a great experience this past weekend. On Sunday morning I was a greeter at College Wesleyan Church. It was by no means a difficult task but it was meaningful. I’ll admit that at times I did get tired of saying, "Good morning!" And I also got a paper cut from handing out the bulletins as the congregation arrived. But in general I truly enjoyed it. As I would greet the morning crowd they would smile and usher quick thanks my way for simply being there. So I smiled, said hello, shook hands, and handed them sheets of paper that would allow them to better understand College Wesleyan and the activities surrounding the church. Eventually I began to realize that I recognized very few faces. I am not deeply entrenched in College Wesleyan and therefore I was not surprised by this but it did cause me to reflect upon a comment Brennan had made when he was greeting.

Brennan mentioned that he was surprised to see many faces that he did not recognize, even in his small church! I feel that a congregation should be exactly that: a congregation. In other words a congregation knows one another and is involved in the lives of one another. Certainly not everyone can be involved in the lives of each person within that church, but there is a necessity for community in churches. It is too easy to succumb to lone-ranger Christianity in which a person rushes into church slightly tardy with the kids and then whisks his/her way out without saying much more than a brief hello to another congregant.

The truth is that there is no such thing as lone-ranger Christianity. Well, there is, but it quickly fades away. I don’t see it plausible for a person to be a Christian without the Church. Dr. Drury wrote of this as an attempt to "behead" Christ. We can’t have Jesus without the Church (the Church universal that is, catholic, holy, apostolic). It is within the Church as a Body, as a community, that God has chosen primarily to work. The Church practices the sacraments, which are a means of grace whereby God transforms and molds us. St. Cyprian went as far as to say, "If one does not have the Church as his mother, he cannot have God as his Father."

All this to say that I feel as if there must be a way in which we can encourage a greater depth of community within our congregations. I want to recognize faces, and I want to know that the people I am greeting recognize me too. This week I learned that greeting is not a difficult task, but it is meaningful and is a great way to immediately communicate to a person entering the church that we care.