Monday, February 2, 2015

It is well with my soul

On Sunday in our small group ministry coordination meeting (the convener calls it 'leaders' meeting, but I loathe that term in a church setting) the pastor serving gave us a 'guided meditation'. It was based on Hillsong's Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).

I'm not often lost for words, but I was gobsmacked into silence by the song's trite manufactured sentiment against the elevated task it was put to.

Just consider these lines:
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am yours and you are mine
My soul will rest in your embrace
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide.
Compare them to these:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Get past the differences in language, to ponder distance they are apart ("I am yours and you are mine" what is that...Taylor Swift?). Admittedly, to the extent that its a matter of taste, you might prefer the former passage, but that in itself would be a worry. It reads like a song cranked out in the Brill Building just after a big lunch; not one sweated out in life, which the latter is, penned by Horatio Spafford after huge personal loss. They are from the hymn It is Well with My Soul. A hymn that has brought be to tears.

But that wasn't the half of it!

We were invited, as we were listening to the song (pointlessly manipulative in the trivial artless repetition that padded it out in true Hillsong style) to consider "what borders do we put on our trust in God?"

A fair question in a way, but, in my view, in a kiddie way. Christianity has an immense heritage of spirituality which this song, and the 'reflective' question are far from.

It's like walking past Mark Zeltser to hear a tin ear merchant play Chopsticks!

But, is it a matter of personal aesthetic here? Maybe, but guard against your personal aesthetic cutting you off from the great traditions of Christians over centuries. You are not better than them.

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