We don’t get lost this morning, but we’re running late. This last day of TWIST is only a half day and they’ve switched the order of things around, so we start with a workshop. I’m in Song Leading Advanced with the lovely Julie Morrow. It’s a great group that seems to get along well and share ideas easily, and Julie is a welcoming and friendly leader. We all get lots of tips and encouragement about why and how we lead the congregation in singing, and ideas on how to prepare and write meaningful introductions, rather than just saying “Okay now we’re going to sing, please stand.”
It’s another chilly, damp day, but not raining as much as yesterday. We have morning tea chatting to Jocelyn, who used to work for AFES, then we go and sit in the third row again for the last session.
Dominic’s talk is on 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. He talks about orderly worship, the ‘weighing of prophecy’, and how we’re expected to consider and weigh up the teaching we receive, not just wholeheartedly accept everything that is said from the front. But even this weighing up needs to be done with thoughtfulness and in an orderly, self-controlled manner (so not everyone carrying on and talking over the top of one another).
This then leads into the tricky bit of the passage about women staying silent in church. “Er…I think I’m out of time!” he jokes. But I think he handles this subject really gently and with love, and gives clear examples that illustrate his point. He outlines what stances people generally take on the subject, and then gives us his opinion, that it’s a particular word for married women (although there are implications for other women too), and it’s certainly not suggesting that women are to be silent in church at all times, in every situation. It’s more talking about the time at the end of the meeting when the ‘prophecy’ is weighed, and saying that it is important for the unity of marriage to be upheld in public, so a wife shouldn’t be contradicting her husband in front of everyone. It’s respecting the order of Christian marriage. It isn’t saying that women shouldn’t have an opinion or shouldn’t express it, but it’s saying that for the thoughtfulness and order that was mentioned earlier, wives need to respect that their husbands represent the head of their households in public. He uses himself and his wife as an example, saying, “If I spoke in public and then my wife piped up and said ‘I completely disagree’, that not only undermines me but it puts the marriage on the line in public too.”
This is a complicated and emotive issue, and it’s hard to condense it down into one blog post without the context of Dominic’s whole talk. So if you’re interested in what he had to say, I’d highly recommend getting the TWIST talks on CD if/when they go onsale from Emu.
One thing I find interesting is when he says that it’s the world that has shifted its perspective, not the Bible, not God. God’s word hasn’t changed but society has, so to our ‘modern’, post-feminist sensibilities, a passage like this seems oppressive and archaic. But Dominic stresses that the Bible’s teaching on gender matters, that this is God’s instruction to us, and as Paul says, if you overthrow the Bible’s teaching on gender, you will be ignored. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything worse than being ignored by God. The very thought of it makes me quail.
He ends his series of talks with an exhortation to us to retain the theological heart of our music worship, but to remember that we are not just brains, we are bodies too, and we require an emotional response as well as an intellectual one. This is something that is certainly lacking in many Anglican churches, and something we touched on in the song leading workshop too, that people aren’t engaged. As music leaders we need to engage peoples’ hearts and minds and prompt them to respond to God’s word in their lives.
After the talk, the kids who’ve been at the kids’ programme get up the front and sing a song. You can tell that they’re kids of musical parents because they dance and sing and are right into it (although there is always one kid who seems to stand front and center with no idea what’s going on, just staring into the middle distance).
We close with a couple more rousing songs, and then it’s all over for another year. Mum and I decide not to hang around for the sandwiches and head home for leftovers of delicious beef stew. Then I do some washing and nap. And that’s the end of the long weekend! Lots to think about.