That word is like crack to most pastors. They love to be called. ‘relevant.’ Most pastors literally go into shivering fits of withdrawl if six or seven church members don’t tell them ‘that sermon was so relevant!’ each Sunday. When they get that fix, life is sweet.
I’ve never really been praised as being relevant, so I haven’t developed this crippling addiction. No one has praised me for being a voice for my generation, or being ‘the next Billy Graham’ or anything like that at all.
ChurchRelevance.com just came up with a list of the 50 most relevant Christian blogs. Stuff Christians Like is up there at number 3, which is awesome. Another one is Mark Driscoll who’s so hot right now. There’s a bunch of other people everyone knows too. To be on the list, you basically have to have a million billion visitors a day. If you’re adored by legions of fans, you’re relevant.
Which left me thinking that by our standards of relevance, my blog would probably land about third place in a contest for least relevant Christian blog. But that’s fine with me! I love that even just a few people come over here and read this stuff. I love that I’ve been able to get to know all five of you a little bit! I love coming over to your blogs and seeing what you’re writing about! You are relevant to me.
Still, this isn’t what most people would consider a relevant Christian blog in the broader sense of the word. My suspicions of my general irrelevance were confirmed when a very reputable organization approached me with their very prestigious award they were giving to me.
They gave me the option of posting that award on my blog, or the following, slightly better sounding award, but they said I had to put one of them up.
So today, I’m celebrating the fact that my blog is a pipsqueak in a sea of bigger blogs. If you’re like me and you feel proud of your blog and your five friends who read it, feel free to steal my award. That’s one of the perks of having a blog with a small audience: no one cares when you post stolen, unlicensed photos from other sites! You should be proud of your blog and your audience, because I’m one of them!
As part of my celebration of ‘irrelevance,’ and the real reason for this post, I’ve got a sweet countdown list:
Six of the Most Irrelevant Hymns Ever Written
These hymns aren’t necessarily the worst to be committed to paper. They just haven’t enjoyed as broad an audience as the classics. Okay, there might be a reason for that.
God of Earth and Outer Space
I was told about this one being written and sung in prayer for the astronauts. But the astronauts’ safety and success wasn’t just being sung as a matter of Christian love. It was a matter of national pride. So it was really an anthem for God to help us beat the Soviets.
God of earth and outer space,
God of love and God of grace,
Bless the astronauts who fly,
As they soar beyond the sky.
God who flung the stars in space,
God who set the sun ablaze,
Fling the spacecraft thro’ the air,
Let man know your presence there.
If I were an astronaut, I would certainly be praying, ‘Dear God, please fling me through the air, although I know there is no actual air in space. Amen.’
The rest of ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’
An otherwise awesome hymn of praise written by Francis of Asissi calls all the earth to sing God’s praises. So far so good. But unbeknownst to most worshippers singing this beloved song, there are more than just the three or four classic verses. Seems once Francis got going, he just couldn’t stop bringing in ‘da noise or da’ funk, and came up with this little ditty of a seventh verse:
And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
Calling ‘Death’ to sing God’s praise? And buttering him up by calling him ‘kind’ and ‘gentle?’ Should’ve stopped while you were ahead.
Bless Thou the Astronauts
Yeah, turned out one astronaut song wasn’t enough. There were two. That’s a praise chorus short of a medley! You could have a complete Star Trek theme for the whole worship service!
Bless Thou the astronauts who face
The vast immensities of space;
And may they know, in air, on land,
Thou holdest them within in thy hand.
O may the small step each doth take
Aid others giant leaps to make.
I especially like the invocation of Niel Armstrong’s famous quote, punctuated with the ‘King Jamesification’ of the quote with the word ‘doth.’
Little Brown Church in the Vale
Apparently, some dude was really sentimental about his childhood church. He cried so hard at the end of VBS, he had to write a song about the place.
There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood,
No lovelier spot in the dale;
No place is so dear to my childhood,
As the little brown church in the vale.
First, we’re singing a song about a church building. Then, I found out this church isn’t even in a green pasture of Ireland or a beautiful meadow in England. It’s in Iowa. Then I threw up.
O God, that Great Tsunami
Yes, it’s a hymn mourning a tsunami strike.
O God, that great tsunami has stunned us one and all;
Our neighbors reel in anguish while homes and cities fall.
O God of wind and water who made the sea and sky,
Amid such great destruction, we mournfully ask “Why?”
First, I enjoy the ambiguity of the first line. Are we calling God a tsunami, or saying “Hey God,” and then pointing to “that” tsunami? (And are we pointing to ‘that’ tsunami over ‘there’ because there’s a second tsunami we want to be sure we’re not singing about?) Second, I can’t think of a more irrelevant response to a tsunami strike than singing this song. I’m sure the hearts of tsunami victims are warmed knowing that a church that didn’t get knocked down by a freakin’ tsunami is singing about them. This song is just good enough, you have to look it up and read the rest of the verses.
Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned
At first, I thought this song was calling Jesus, ‘majestic sweetness,’ which is a rather original name. Sounds like something I should call my wife when she’s mad at me. But apparently ‘majestic sweetness’ is an altogether seperate entity. And it has a throne. And the throne is on Jesus’ head.
Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned,
His lips with grace o’erflow,
His lips with grace o’erflow.
Back in the day, did brow and flow rhyme? What about throne and crown?
I haven’t even touched the more recent wave of irrelevance that hit the church in the last thirty years. What songs do you find to be irrelevant or just awful? What songs do you love that seem to have been put aside by everyone else? Maybe I’ll make a list of irrelevant-yet-still-awesome hymns.
Note: My original research told me that the ‘little brown church’ was in Wisconsin, but it is actually in Iowa. I don’t know if that makes the song any better, but I am ashamed that I would present to you such a blatant falsehood as fact, and I denounce the website which misled me. I appreciate sharp-eyed readers whenever they can keep me on my toes, and do so in Christian love!