FILLING OR FEEDING?

I’VE DONE A BIT OF CHUNTERING over the years about liturgical inanities. If music is, as Bishop Michael Marshall suggests, “the bicycle of the liturgy”, then we’d better make sure that the ideas – the old and the “fresh expressions” – thereby conveyed are what we want to say theologically, what we want to say about God, and about ourselves. Nick Baines’ More Liturgical Osmosis has

this morning we sang that unfortunate song, O let the love of God enfold you. Why unfortunate? The chorus line asks God to ‘come and fill your lambs’ – but doesn’t say what with. Sage and onion stuffing?! It is a very odd line to sing without feeling weird. So, why do we keep singing it – especially when the post-resurrection Jesus enjoins Peter to ‘feed’ and ‘tend my lambs/sheep (John 21), but not to ‘fill’ them?

“Why do we keep saying it / singing it” (whatever “it” is) is just exactly the question the Church is called to ask every day of its life, for some of the things we say and sing and do are trite at best and dangerous at worst. If we can come up with good reason for doing / singing something, great. If not, let’s drop it. But then, of course, a vexingly bigger question confronts us, whether in the realms of sex, religion & liturgy, or politics: who (citizens of the world in 2009) are “we” ?