Expressing Our Faith
Scripture: Luke 19:28-40
Expressing Your Faith Take-home questions
April 14, 2019, Palm Sunday
United Parish in Brookline
For the past five weeks of Lent, we have been exploring aspects of our faith in worship, study groups and with take-home questions. We offer the questions below as a recap our five-week exploration and offer guidelines for how you may want to structure your own faith expression.
For Easter Sunday, we invite all members and friends of our community to try your hand at writing, drawing, painting or singing your own individual expression of your faith.
What does “faith” mean to you?
Who and/or what is God to you?
Who is Jesus to you?
Who is the Holy Spirit to you?
What does the Church mean to you?
How does it help you in exploring and expressing your faith?
How does your faith compel you to be in relationship with the rest of the world?
We invite you to reflect on these questions above, as well as others you may have, and gather them into your own individual expression of faith.
We welcome hearing from you, if you are willing to share them with the pastors for Sunday’s worship -- either to display in worship, to incorporate into the sermon, whether fully attributed or anonymous, or just to let us know. If it is something you would like to display, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
by the end of Maundy Thursday, April 18.
Here we are at Palm Sunday, after several weeks of exploring different aspects of our faith and how we express it. We’ve talked about what Faith is, we’ve explored God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church and the World, and now we’re ready, or ready as we’ll ever be, to create our own faith statements or expressions.
Speaking of faith expressions, this morning, we’ve already heard a couple movements of the Fauré Requiem, as sung by our chancel choir. A requiem, as many of you know, is essentially a funeral mass set to music. It’s made up of several movements, each a part of the text of a funeral mass, such as the introit, the kyrie eleison, the dies irae, the offertory, the sanctus, the agnus dei, and so on.
Fauré's Requiem, however, is somewhat unique among requiems for several reasons.
For one thing, Fauré replaces the then-obligatory “Dies Irae” movement with a “Pie Jesu” movement, and in doing so, substitutes a text about Divine wrath and judgement with a text asking Jesus to bless the departed with forgiveness and everlasting rest. We go from a text speaking of fire and brimstone, of punishment and damnation, to a text that implores, “pious Lord Jesus, give them rest.”
Fauré also made changes to the text itself in some of the movements, for example changing a line in the Offertory, the movement that we heard just after the prayer of confession. Fauré changed the line from the traditional “libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum”, which means, "deliver the souls of all the faithful departed," to “libera animas defunctorum”, meaning simply "deliver the souls of the departed". A small linguistic difference with a world of theological difference!
Thinking back to high school English class where we’d debate what a poet truly meant by one of his lines, I was hesitant at first to claim any deliberate theological motivation behind Fauré’s customizations, shall we say. I didn’t want to simply dismiss the possibility that they were more musically motivated than theologically motivated.
However, in our worship meeting we were reading a bit about Fauré and his requiem, and as it happens, unlike many of the poets we read in high school English class, Fauré did give a bit of explanation for his changes. Or at least, he confirmed that he was thinking theologically.
When interviewed about his piece, Fauré declared,
"Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest." He elaborated, “It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience.
The music of Gounod has been criticised for its inclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist's nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ”
This work of art is a statement of faith in and of itself, and not just the lyrics or the music, but it’s actual composition- in the very act of putting it together, Fauré was declaring his faith and beliefs.
Jesus told the Pharisees, that even if his followers were silent, “the stones would shout out.” Even if we silence our words, our faith cannot be contained or kept hidden, and it will burst forth in our dances, our instruments, and our actions.
We’ve had such an incredible journey this Lenten season, digging into our own faith and learning about and from each other’s faith journeys.
After worship today, we will meet in the Parlor to recap the last few weeks of faith exploration and have some intentional time to work on creating our faith expressions; there will be art supplies, paper, clay, inspirational images, hymnals, staff paper, sample creeds and statements of faith. Whether or not you’ve been attending our Lenten workshops, we invite you to this time of sacred creativity and thought.
Just as the disciples shouted with loud Hosannas as Jesus entered Jerusalem, as we ourselves move into Holy Week and toward Easter, we, too, declare our faith, whatever it is, right here, right now, at this moment in our lives. Just like Fauré and his requiem, the very act of writing, drawing, dancing, composing our faith is in and of itself an act of faith.
As we return to the Requiem, I encourage you to let this music work its way into your soul, to let it swirl around your mind, to see what thoughts or feelings it evokes. Is music not just another way of speaking in tongues, of letting the spirit flow through us and communicating a message directly to our very souls?
We needn’t speak latin or understand music theory to appreciate or be moved by Fauré’s work. We needn’t speak the language of composers to understand their message as though in were in our own, native language. We ourselves may even keep silent, but the stones are still shouting out.
Download this week's take-home questions here.
Download this week's curriculum packet here.