new blog site

I know, I can’t seem to stay at the same site for my blog. Blogger, MobileMe, Blogger again, and now WordPress. So why WordPress? I like the templates and the flexibility. And it just looks cleaner. Plus, if I decide I want to learn CSS (which I eventually do), I can do whatever I want to my blog. You don’t mind if I give it a try, do you?

Please go to emilyschronicles.wordpress.com.

Maybe I’ll stay for a while. I'll try. :0)


the worship experiment, uk: week 16

Carlisle Cathedral
21 March, 10:30am

I attended the Cathedral’s weekly Service of Holy Communion. The service is thoroughly Anglican and high-church, but from what I understand, and unusually, this church is evangelical. The choir consists of all men and boys, similar to other high churches, and they sing the Litany, Psalm of the day, congregational hymns, Sanctus, the song during Communion, and the Motet, as well as a daily (except Saturday) Evensong.

Though this type of church is not one I would want to call home for various reasons, least of all being that it is too formal and impersonal, it was beautiful. The service was structured as follows:

We Gather
Collect of the Day

We Hear the Word
Old Testament reading
New Testament reading
Gospel reading

We Affirm our Faith
Nicene Creed

We Pray for Others

We Confess
Moment of silence for confession Prayer of Penitence
Proclamation of God’s forgiveness

We Celebrate
Passing of the Peace
Offertory hymn

We take (bread and wine placed on the altar and we say, “All things come from You, and ofYour own do we give You.”)

We give thanks (litanies, Sanctus, other words)
The Lord’s Prayer

We break
(the President breaks the consecrated bread)

We share (partake of the Lord’s Supper)
The Motet

We Are Sent Out
Prayer after Communion Blessing
Final hymn

There are a couple of impressions I would like to mention. One is that I was surprised at the relative friendliness. I was greeted as I came in the door and helped to find a seat. When I have visited a church like this in the past, the greeting has been very utilitarian; this one was genuine. The passing of the peace lasted for a few minutes, similar to St. James’. The congregation will come out of their way to greet you; not just the four or five people around them.

The sermon was fifth of a five-part series on the Eucharist; this section was on the Eucharist as Penitence—in terms of repentance. In it, the Very Reverend Mark Boyling said that repentance is more than confessing one’s sin, but it means turning around entirely and going the other direction. I wondered if St. Paul’s or Westminster would have a sermon like that. He also mentioned that during Lent, the church changes the place of confession in the liturgy from the beginning to after the intercessions. When it is at the beginning, it is meant to remind us that confession is always before us and always necessary. When it is later, it is so that our mindset is more reflective. I must say that having it after this particular sermon made it much more meaningful and possibly allowed the Holy Spirit to convict is response to the sermon. A regular part of the liturgy, but one more contemporary churches tend to breeze by, is the proclamation of God’s forgiveness. After this time of confession, it is really good to remind us that God has forgiven us. I think we should take this to heart and practice this more often. It also made Communion more meaningful— after the time of reflection and assurance of pardon, we were reminded that Christ’s blood was shed so that we could be forgiven.

Having had visited many cathedrals in my time here, I have been reminded that these spectacular houses of worship were constructed to remind us of the greatness of God. Having this so tangibly, as you are sitting in this amazing work of art, and having recently read in Exodus about the construction of the tabernacle, I was reminded of God’s awesome power. This morning, I experienced both awe of God’s transcendence and the personal nature of His immanence, specifically that shown in Christ’s being one of us.

The Cathedral from my vantage point

Spring time at Carlisle Cathedral


the worship experiment, uk: week 15

St. Michael’s Church, Stanwix
28 February, 6:30pm

I decided to go to St. Michael’s, my parish church (the one in my community), at the last moment. I was on the way out of the door to go to St. James’ and decided to walk up the street and see if St. Michael’s was having their evening contemporary service, Engage. They were. In fact, sometime in the past 6 months, they’ve switched from doing this service once a month to every week.

The feeling when I walked in was very casual. The church building is pretty large, with a big choir area. Though the nave has pews, the transept area has chairs, which on the left side, had been moved—some facing forward, others inward. To the left of the chairs was a table with coffee, tea and biscuits, which I was invited to twice and was open during the service. To the right of the transept, in line with the chairs, was the band, which consisted of the worship leader on acoustic guitar, drums, flute, and three vocalists, all around one mic. All of the vocalists were female, including the worship leader, Jo, who is the vicar’s wife. We received no bulletin or books when we came in and the songs were on the screen only.

After a brief intro of the service by one of the vocalists, we had a time of musical worship—about 4 songs, a mixture of choruses and hymns. I caught a glimpse of the service order because it was on the chair next to me, and saw that they had split the scripture passage into three parts with a time of prayer and reflection between each—probably the least “Anglican” and most creative service I’ve seen during my time here. The woman who was “speaking” came to the front and read the Mark version of Peter’s denial, then explained how they had divided the message into three parts. She then proceeded with the first (read from notes), then we had a long time of silent meditation followed by prayer. The guitar and flute followed with a little music, and we repeated this two more times.

After that came another set of worship songs, then a closing prayer. It was a very thought-provoking evening and refreshing because I sensed that to those leading the service, worship was more than music, but all of the elements of the service. They flowed together and there was never a moment when I was distracted by the next element. I spoke with the worship leader after and thanked her for the evening.

the worship experiment, uk: week 14

St. Peter’s Church
21 February, 9:30am

This morning I went back to St. Peter’s church which I attended back in October. Last time, I had attended their evening service, which was a more traditional format with a very small, older constituency. The vicar encouraged me to attend the morning family service. About a month later, I attended their sister parish, St. John’s Houghton, which was also traditional, and again, the vicar encouraged me to go to the family service. So, now, 3 months later, I decided to try it. The room, packed with people (about 130), including lots of kids, parents and older people, generated a feeling of excitement. Honestly, I was expecting a full band, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, the service was still a fairly “Anglican” service, with a song, then another element, then another song, then element, etc., though it was casual, and the musicians consisted of a keyboard and a flute, with no worship leader. The vicar (the leader that day) “led” the music with no amplification. The room is a strange shape—it appears as though the church was originally just a nave and that it has an addition to it which extends the left side of it. Because of this, the instruments are in the newer portion of the room, but the vicar, pulpits and altar are in the original portion.

We were handed songbooks and liturgy books when we came in, though the liturgy wasn’t used the song words were projected. As is typical in the Church of England, there was a time of confession, Scripture reading and a time of intercession. There was also a missions focus. The offering plate was in the back of the room as we came in, and it was presented at the front during the closing song.

Right before the children were dismissed, the vicar invited kids and leaders who were in the previous weeks’ Holiday Club (it was half-term) to come up and teach the motions to a song they had learned. Everyone sang and a few people joined in on the motions.

The preacher that morning was a visiting preacher from the London area, who was a previous vicar at St. Peter’s. Before he shared from the Word of God, the vicar interviewed him and he shared about a difficulty his church is going through. The church did a series on marriage, tied in with Valentine’s Day. They have been given a hard time by the media over some things they said about marriage. It has hit national and even international coverage. He asked us to pray for them.

His sermon was on Philemon and he took us through the letter as if Philemon and his wife were reading it for the first time. After the close of the service, the preacher and the vicar left quickly to go to St. John’s and lead that service (not dissimilar to a large church in the States with multiple campuses).


the worship experiment, uk: week 13

The Border Kirk (Church of Scotland in Carlisle)
24 January, 11:00am

I wasn’t planning on getting up to go to church this day. I’ve been attending St. James in the evening, but this morning I woke up around 9:30 and thought, “Maybe I should check out another church since I’m up.” So I went online to see if there was a church I could check out. Criteria: 1) one I hadn’t been to; 2) a service which started at 11:00. I remembered that there was a Church of Scotland somewhere, and since I worked at a Presbyterian church for a number of years, I was interested in seeing what the “original” Presbyterian Church was all about.

A number of things seemed to come up to keep me away. First, the church is in the City Centre, and I couldn’t find a place to park. Then when I finally found one, it was a good 7 minutes’ walk away. This made me at least 5 minutes late. Third, when I got to the entrance, the door was locked. I saw a doorbell but thought, “Surely they don’t mean for me to ring the doorbell! What if it rings in the sanctuary?” So I walked around to the back of the church. No door. I walked back to the front and strongly considered leaving, but I really wanted to see this church, so I went for it. I rang the bell. Did it ring in the sanctuary? I didn’t know at the time, but found out later that, yes, it did. I’m really glad I didn’t know that.

The man who greeted me was very friendly and helped me find a seat—which, by the way, was upstairs.

My first impression … not a user-friendly church. I mean, how many visitors would actually ring the doorbell? I almost didn’t, and I’m a thoroughly churched, vocational church person.

Let’s move on from that. The worship space was set up differently than any other church I’ve been in. True to Reformed form, this church was plainer than that of many of the Anglican churches. There was limited stained glass, and the beams of the church were made of wood rather than stone. Three plain banners hung on the walls. There were three rows of pews stretched straight out, with the largest in the center and a balcony behind. There was a flat stage that stretched the length of the first two rows of pews. Behind the platform there was more seating. There was a large pulpit to the side and organ pipes beyond that. The organ itself was on the back side of the platform. On this particular week, the pulpit wasn’t utilized; instead, the pastor used a smaller pulpit.

I found out later that the service I attended was one that happened monthly. Typically, they have two services; one is a traditional service with organ and full sermon, and the other is considered their contemporary service, with a band. Once a month, they combine for a family service, in which the children stay in all morning and are involved. The also use both the band and organ (though separately), and the pastor doesn’t preach; instead, he does a couple of mini-sermons, which are very kid-friendly and are not expositional. They’re only about 5-7 minutes each.

It was good to see how involved the children were—besides coming up during the “sermons,” they helped with the scripture reading (an older child was part of the group that was reading, while a younger child held up props to show the body of Christ—I Cor 12:14-26), and a teenager read a poem. The pastor held everything together thematically. All of the songs were about being the Church, and the poem and one of the sermons was about Martin Luther King, Jr. and about being the Church in the community. He had an easel pad at the front with the words, “I have a dream” on it. He must have invited people to write their dreams on it throughout the service, but since I was 10-15 minutes late, I missed that part. At the end, he read what people had written and asked the congregation to pray for the “dreams” throughout the week.

A woman who is training under the pastor led the prayer time and asked everyone to turn to their neighbor and pray for something on their hearts. This was obviously a novice idea to the congregation, as she had to instruct them twice and even then, only a few people did it, whispering very quietly to one another. It was obviously uncomfortable for them. In talking to the pastor later, he mentioned this and said that the Church of Scotland, particularly in Scotland, is extremely reserved. I recalled how my pastor at First Presbyterian used to call Presbyterians the “frozen chosen.” Apparently, this congregation in Carlisle is considerably less reserved than his last parish in Scotland! They did attempt to clap during one song.

It was good to see the children’s participation and the pastor’s creativity, and I was impressed with his heart to do everything he could to build unity in the congregation by having this combined service once a month (not to mention, to try to help both polarities of worship style learn from and appreciate each other), but I felt something was missing: expositional preaching. I don’t think it’s good that he’s losing that because the children are in the service. And in a denomination that holds “the Word and the Sacrament” so highly, it’s a bit surprising.

I know they’re doing the best with what they have, but the music was not stellar. Except for the Doxology, I don’t remember one song that was directed at God. Simply put, what we had that morning musically was not worship. We sang “I Am the Church,” a simple kids song about what constitutes the Church, “Welcome Everybody,” a song whose chorus says, “Welcome everybody, it’s good to see you here” to the tune of “Do Lord,” and the South African tune “We Are Marching” (we even sang one chorus in Zulu). I appreciated that the pastor brought in music from the global Church, but once again, this song doesn’t say anything, and I doubt that the congregation can speak Zulu (I sang it in college so was at least familiar with it). We also sang a hymn called “Brother, Sister.” This one was probably the closest to exhorting one another in worship. The band consisted of a drummer, keyboardist, two acoustic guitars which were not in tune, and an accordion. All of the instrumentalists were given microphones to sing.

With the exception of the Doxology and the bringing forward of the offering (there was an offering taken during the service), there was less liturgy than I expected. In general, I’m under the impression that the Presbyterian Church in the States is more liturgical than its counterpart in the UK. When I interviewed the pastor later in the day, he mentioned that the U.S. churches “have embraced elements of Anglo-Catholic worship that we’ve resisted” (he did work in a PCUSA church in the States for a while). He said, “The best of traditions in other churches we adopt now. But even 80 years ago, candles in worship would have been anathema!” Wow! I guess that makes sense, considering one of the things many Protestant churches were protesting was anything that could be construed as iconic or getting in the way of the Word.

After the service, the lady I sat next to invited me downstairs for coffee. On the way down, she introduced me to the pastor, and I found out that some of his relatives live minutes away from my home in the States, and that he’s visited The Chapel before! He came over to me while I was conversing with some others, and we talked for a while. Then his wife invited me over for dinner, so I went, hesitantly. I must admit, this was the first time that’s ever happened. We ended up having a lovely afternoon, learning about each other’s church experiences and hearing one another’s passion for the church. I ended up interviewing them for my paper as well. To top it off, the pastor’s wife, who works for the Presbytery, invited me to come with her on a Sunday in April and help her lead a service at a church (with two parishes) in Scotland!

So what started as waking up early, deciding to try out a church and almost being turned away, ended up as a total God-thing! What an interesting adventure of a day it was.


haiti follow-up

Here's one way we can help:
Giving. Sometimes it doesn't seem like enough, doesn't it? Like we're not on the front lines, getting dirty and really touching lives. Though I still tend feel that way a little, if there's one thing I'm reminded of working at OM, it's that praying and giving are HUGE. I couldn't do what I'm doing without the prayer and monetary support of over 100 amazing people. This week, we've been rejoicing because of a large amount of money that has been donated to OM internationally in the past few weeks—huge answers to prayer on many accounts! Ministries, churches, people require money to do their work effectively.

So giving to Haiti will help. World Relief says that every $2 provides 2 hot meals for one person. Providing a meal for someone hungry. That sounds like something Jesus would appreciate.

Other Haiti links to check out:



So, what do we do about it? What do I do about it? Feel bad, pray, and then go along in my life as normal? O God, what do we do?

AP photos, from Telegraph


the worship experiment, uk: week 12

All Souls Langham Place
27 December, 9:30am

While in London, I decided to attend the church where John Stott was the Rector for 25 years, and has now been Rector Emeritus for 30 years.

All Souls has a beautiful and unique facility. It is not a typical European cathedral. The sanctuary is square, with balconies on three sides. There is a large, flat stage at the front. The stage is a deep red wood. The second level has gold pillars all around, and there is a large painting of Christ on the wall at the front. They have a 16x9 screen which comes down in front of the painting, with plasma TVs all around the sides and under the balconies, so they are visible at all angles. There is a large gray pulpit at the front, very contemporary and either metal or marble—symbolic of their commitment to the Scriptures.

The service I attended had a different combination of musicians: piano, organ, bass, flute, trombone, acoustic guitar and two male vocalists. The music director conducted everything, including the vocalists, and every song had a long introduction (not necessarily by the music director). Unfortunately, I had a difficult time worshiping during the music. The major hindrance was that one of the vocalists had an aura that made me uncomfortable. It was like being back in music school around some of the vocalists. It’s hard to explain, but it was in his demeanor and confidence. It may have been simply that he was a classical musician and knows how to perform in classical venues but doesn’t know how to translate that into a worship setting. I don’t mean that a worship setting is a performance, but as a musician you need to learn how to take what you know about stage presence and translate that into different settings. I was reminded how important it is to always be aware of what I'm communicating non-verbally and how I can be a help or hindrance to someone's ability to worship.

Another reason it was difficult to focus that morning was one of the song choices. There were some regular Christmas songs and a lot of Christmas tunes with different words; but the doozy was that they took “Jingle Bells” and put new words to it. They called it a “children’s song,” but still …

As many of the other Anglican services I’ve attended, the songs were interspersed with prayers, readings, a “family focus” and notices (announcements). The offering was taken more formally than at other churches. After it was taken, it was brought forward and placed on the altar during one of the songs. I actually like that occasionally. It makes the act of worshiping through giving more about thanksgiving for what God has given us.

The sermon was on “The Names for Christmas,” from Isaiah 9:6. During a time of greeting one another, I was greeted by a man next to me, who asked me my name, where I was from, why I was in London, etc. He made me feel welcome. The music director also came up and shook hands. I think he recognized I was new, which was impressive in a large congregation (I don’t know the exact number, but I would say the sanctuary seats at least 800, and they have 3 morning services and 1 evening service).