Truth in typos

A recent service folder from a contemporary praise and worship service I saw includes (as a distribution song, no less) a song called “Be the Center.” I don’t know what it sounds like, because only the text is printed in the service folder, but the lyrics are printed as follows:

Jesus, be the center, be my source, be my light, Jesus.
Jesus, me the center, be my hope, be my song, Jesus.
Be the fire in my heart, be the wind in these sails,
Be the reason that I live, Jesus, Jesus.
Jesus be the vision, be my path, be my guide, Jesus.
Be the fire in my heart, be the wind in these sails,
Be the reason that I live, Jesus, Jesus.
Jesus, be the center, be my source, be my light, Jesus.

Yeah. If this were an answer on Jeopardy the question might be something like, “What is singing in church for ten minutes and saying nothing (clearly not a ten-minute song; nevertheless, the praise band is allotted its time, so the worship team must lead the song in progressively more spirit-filled repetitions until the audien–er, congregation is appropriately frenzied)?”

But the typo was indeed priceless: “Jesus, me the center, be my hope, be my song, Jesus.” At least, I (think/hope) it was a typo, but the honesty of it is delicious.

I was going to stop there.

You know why it’s so unbelievably hard to teach AC XVIII anymore? AC II? AC IV? AC V? AC VI? (Need I go on?) It’s because some who call themselves my brothers go looking around for any possible way to trade away the Word of God for a Reformed mess o’ pottage. When I hear these songs and read these “relevant” liturgies, I can’t help but think of the late George Harrison and the Beatles singing, “I me me mine! I me me mine!” I’ve made up my own parody, apparently fit for many churches on Sunday mornings:

All we can say, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Sing, speak, or pray; I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Now we just feel the Spirit
You say you can’t hear it?
We’ll turn all the amps up to nine
All we can say
I me mine

I me me mine, I me me mine
I me me mine, I me me mine

Focus on me, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Toss liturgy, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Can I sing with the praise band?
More heartfelt with raised hands!
God’s lucky I give of my time!
All we can say
I me mine

I me me mine, I me me mine
I me me mine, I me me mine

It’s about me, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Such synergy, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
I just choose to give myself
To God–I don’t need help.
The ladder to Jesus I’ll climb!
All I can say
I me mine

It’s a work in progress.

About ten years ago I heard Lost and Found doing their schtick on the word “explicit.” The dictionary defines the term to mean “unambiguous” or a variant on that. But the record industry has taken it over to mean “dirty,” as in


So they went on about how they had to wash their hands because, having just played in the mud, they were rather explicit, etc. And consequently, they reclaimed the word and placed the above sticker on their next album warning that the lyrics spoke of Jesus Christ in an unambiguous way.

“Relevant” has enjoyed much the same kind of history. As explicit was euphamistically used to denote profanity, relevant has come to denote focus upon self instead of “pertaining to the matter at hand.” As this tends to be the case, according to Luther all sin is “nouveau pertinent” (“new relevant;” forgive the French, but for such an abomination French may indeed be called for): en curvatus se–being curved in on self.

This “relevance” is indeed sin. It is idolatrous, and it obscures and does violence to the proclamation of the Word of God, both Law and Gospel. It creates a thousand valid realities of a thousand little centers of the universe with a thousand sham notions of peace through self-help. And (and this is the kicker) many pastors are allowing and even promoting this nonsense.

So perhaps we take it back. Let’s stop advertising services in which the Word of God is purely proclaimed and the Sacraments are rightly administered as “liturgical.” Let’s advertise them as “relevant.” I can see the marquee in the “blended” church’s parking lot now:


Take back the language. Relevant means “pertaining to the matter at hand.” That matter is the fact that we are fallen and helpless. And God in his infinite mercy and grace sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die and rise again to save us–“without any merit or worthiness in [us].” We didn’t help. We don’t help. We can’t help. He does it all. That’s relevant. That’s truth.

Update (21 June): Verse 4

I me me mine, I me me mine
I me me mine, I me me mine

We’ve culled out keys*, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Twelve steps to ease, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Pastors, they teach it,
From pulpits they preach it:
“Just do this and all will be fine.”
All that they say
I me mine

* That’s keys as in principles, not as in “Office of the…”

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8 Responses to Truth in typos

  1. D%#* Right! Sorry, the strength of my agreement moves me to explitive.
    In a recent “chapel” at my work, our president led us in a “pledge” related to his topic of avoiding cynicism. Everyone spontaneously said, “I will not lose my job by entertaining questions about the motives or sincerity of others” despite the fact that it was clearly written, “not lose my joy…” A mass Freudian slip, and so true. It was a veiled attempt to threaten us into not questioning the administration.

  2. OSC says:

    Too funny. The truth has a way of surfacing, doesn’t it? Thanks for the comment.

  3. Anoki Ha Ish says:

    It’s wearing me down. That’s all. I could vent my spleen for a million years and that’s pretty much it. It’s wearing me down.

  4. Marklar says:

    *swoop in*

    On the topic of worship and Lutherans and all that…

    http://themarkelfamily.com/album/lsbplates/

    *swoop out*

  5. OSC says:

    Ryan,

    Thanks for the pics. Looking forward to its rollout. Is CPH going to offer a test drive of the LSBuilder?

  6. Marklar says:

    No demo planned until at least some time after release.

    We don’t have time to code something like that while trying to ship the actual product.

    Workshops will be coming out my ears in July and August, though. You should come to Now/Then.

  7. OSC says:

    We’re actually hosting one of the local workshops sometime in the fall. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been pretty impressed with most of what I’ve seen so far.

  8. therightthing says:

    Sincerity is of the utmost importance. The sincerity of others is difficult to judge and is not our place to judge unless God has asked you to confront ambiguity and hypocrisy in your community. It is troubling that we grow used to routine and in routine we grow too comfortable, which often leads to missing the mark. It’s sad that we are all so guilty of it. We all do sing I, me, mine from time to time. Reminders help us. Gentle reminders help us most.

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