On Saturday night I went to a service commissioning a team of 4 youth ministers to work in various parts of our Deanery...The work they are doing is great, and it's exciting to be in this place at a time when so many churches are sharing a longing to connect with children and young people, in a way that just hasn't been true for a long while.
The service was full of celebration of all that has been achieved and of God's unexpected providence at many stages in the journey so far. It really was good to be there even on a truly miserable November evening.The worship was, unsurprisingly,rather different from my own preferred style, but a bit of variety never does anyone any harm and I would have come home entirely happy if only we hadn't sung this.
It's a really frustrating song....wonderful tune, with heavy Celtic influences....for the most part splendid inspiring words
"Here in the faith of Christ I stand"
But there's no getting round the substitutionary atonement theology of the 2nd verse
"Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;"
It was a genuine struggle not to shout NO as those words came up on the screen (specially as there is an infinitely more acceptable version -
"Till on that cross as Jesus died, the love of God was magnified")
and suddenly, for me, there was a shadow cast over the whole evening.
I am hugely thankful for PSALMS, really I am...and it's exciting that through them it might be possible to connect with the many young people in my parishes whom traditional church will never reach...but I'm distraught that the God to whom they are introduced may be more the God of "sign on the dotted line, having prayed the sinner's prayer" than the God of unbounded unconditional love...
It leaves me with a dilemma, - and the need for a huge amount of prayer.
When does theology need to take a back seat? Am I being ridiculous in worrying that the vision of God that is being presented to these young people is, in my opinion, a narrow and imperfect one? Can't I just trust God to make Godself known in all the shining reality of unbounded Love that I rejoice in?