sacred static

5 11 2013

The sacred static is the noise you hear
from the heads of those so attached to how things
never were.

The sacred static is that which hasn’t always been
but feels like it ought to have been
and if we tell ourselves it has then we will believe it.

The sacred static is the sound of dust falling
onto things that once moved with life
but now feature in a museum of an imagined age.  

The sacred static preserves memory like the ashes of a loved one
in a golden urn upon the shrine of how things were
that cannot be moved or questioned.

The sacred static is the sound you hear 
when you ask the question:
so how about this worship we do that doesn’t reach anybody
and hasn’t for years; shall we do something different…?

Sacred static drowns out creative conversation
and the faith of our children’s children
with it’s fear of all but the most familiar.

Sacred static is like staring at the telly in the old days
when it went off air but you were so lonely
you just kept watching the meaningless dots.

Sacred static holds things as they are
nailing them to the floor and
claiming them as eternal
yet ensuring their mortality with the very same nails.

Sacred static is all that has been and cannot un-be. 

The sacred static is nothing to do with moving pews
or updating hymnbooks  
but everything to do with safety and familiarity 
and being anchored in a bewildering world of change
where it is ok to change homes, jobs, supermarkets, TV’s and partners
But do not change my church.

The sacred static is the sound of the Spirit
breathing out for the last time.  

This lament was inspired by a conversation with a friend who is a vicar in Cornwall, and is exactly that: a lament. I do believe there is hope, and the church is doing new things in Cornwall. But sometimes you just need to lament. 



3 responses

6 11 2013
Andrew Clayton

Before I hand myself over for criticism, know that I belong to a large Anglican church with a modern band-led sung worship style, a loosely ordered service with plenty of room for variation, and thriving children’s and young peoples’ work. I’m in my thirties. I have a variegated Protestant background, being brought up in a free church and then a Baptist congregation, before settling where I am now about fifteen years ago.

Out on a limb, I know, but sometimes the familiarity of a church to people who are uncomfortable with the pace of change in the outside world can be a source of deep attraction. The church cannot be all things to all folk, and identifying the needs it aims to meet should perhaps inform the direction it takes. I find that liturgy, hymns, choral singing and closely structured services really scratch itches in my soul that “charismatic evangelical” worship with free flow and modern music simply can’t quite touch. This isn’t to say I’m quite prepared to sell the drum kit though…

7 11 2013

In many ways I agree – there is a real value in the traditional style which is a good antidote to the sometimes shallow & fluffy nature of contemporary worship. However, that means those churches have to keep going ther rest of the time. It’s almost – but only almost – the same as those who don’t go to church at all but want them to be there for the once a year they do. Is it worth it? Open question…!

7 11 2013
Michael Summers

I admire your choice of metaphor. Yes, static keeps us from identifying essentials and truth. It complicates communication and confusion. We worship the peripheral rather than the eternal. Yet, static may come from without as well as from within. The static of cultural morality and advocacy for pluralism blur transmission of ethical standards and teaching about a God who pursues justice. Tradition does obscure our vision at times, too. Don’t throw out your television because it has static in the picture. Try to get better reception; perhaps some “dust’ does interfere.

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