Article Archives

Author: Matthew Sigler

Matt Sigler ~ Knowing What We Have: The Methodist Liturgical Heritage, Part III

“The efforts at Methodist liturgical revision that culminated in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal and 1992 Book of Worship were often disregarded by those seeking to make their worship services more “contemporary.” As “contemporary worship” became an increasingly viable option for Methodists, many completely rejected the hymnal or anything that appeared to be rooted in the past. While Methodist “contemporary” worship frequently infused life into dry services, it often looked just like the Baptist “contemporary” service down the street. In rejecting the historic forms of their worship, Methodists suffered from an identity crisis in their worship services.”

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Matthew Sigler ~ Knowing What We Have: The Methodist Liturgical Heritage, Part II

At issue was the question of what made Methodist worship distinctly Methodist. Drawing from Wesley’s example, Summers argued that form and freedom should go hand in hand in Methodist worship. Even today these disagreements over what makes Methodist worship “Methodist” continue. For all the talk over “high” and “low” church; “spirit-led” and “ordered;” or “contemporary” and “traditional”—whatever the current iteration of the debate—we might do well to take a page from Wesley and Summers who both understood that form and freedom are two sides of the same coin for Methodists.

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Misplacing Charisma: Where Contemporary Worship Lost Its Way

Many forget (or don’t know) that “contemporary” worship was inextricably linked to the Charismatic Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. This connection forged a musical style that was rooted in a particular understanding of the Spirit in worship. God was uniquely encountered, by the Spirit, in congregational singing.

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Matthew Sigler ~ Knowing What We Have: A Look at the Methodist Liturgical Heritage

If it is true that many are gravitating to more historically resonant forms of worship, Methodists should know the resources within their own liturgical history…The forms of Methodist worship, when embraced with “heart, mind, soul and strength,” allow for reverent spontaneity and holy emotion. The use of liturgical forms, for Wesley, actually led to freedom in worship—a fact quickly lost on his American descendants.

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Matt Sigler ~ Catechesis, Worship, and the Hymnal

If contemporary Methodists are serious about robust catechesis, we must broaden our concept of the term. We must understand that baptism is a moment that shapes our entire life—a journey in holiness. We must break free from an approach to catechesis that is merely didactic and understand that the process of catechesis is anchored in the worshipping community. And we need look no further than our own tradition for what is, perhaps, the preeminent Wesleyan catechetical resource: the Wesleyan hymns.

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Matt Sigler ~ Our Hearts Burning Within Us

Often the weeks after Easter can seem like a letdown. With our energies expended on Easter sunrise services and the other events of the day, we trudge into the following Sundays frequently missing the richness of the post-Easter Day season. The Story does not end with Easter morning and the empty tomb. We have broiled fish to eat and sheep to feed. We need to hear Christ’s voice say “peace be with you” as we’re caught off-guard when he unexpectedly shows up in our midst. Like the disciples, we need to encounter the risen Christ as we continue on the journey.

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Matt Sigler ~ A New Way of Counting

The weight of Christian worship history testifies that the Sunday service is primarily a gathering of, and for, the faithful. This is not to say that we shouldn’t consider how our worship services can best speak in the language of our local contexts. It isn’t to say that we shouldn’t consider if our gatherings are marked with radical hospitality and welcome. But we gather in continuity with the first followers of Christ who found the tomb empty on Sunday.

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