It’s a typical Sunday at Fellowship Church. As the 10:30 a.m. starting time passes, worship leader Anne Berkenbosch calls vainly for attention amid a hubbub of conversation and entering latecomers. This morning, the task is particularly tough as the congregation’s newest members make their first appearance—twins whose perch at the back of this tiered atrium pulls members out of their seats for hugs and congratulations.
Articles in this issue:
Q. Our newspapers are full of stories about crime, homelessness, the environment, and other societal problems. Why don’t we hear more about this in worship?
A. My hunch is that these themes are quite prominent in communities that face injustice but less so in more affluent places. It is always a temptation to prefer worship that comforts us without challenging us. But the gospel clearly involves both.
Part of what makes the World Wide Web so interesting is the way it links together things you wouldn’t ordinarily find in the same mental zip code. Two stray clicks and you’ve discovered a connection between the Great Barrier Reef and wine-soaked raisins; robotic sergers and distant quasars; justice and worship. To the church’s great shame, these last two items—working for justice and worshiping a just God—are too infrequently considered together.
Ouch. Kim used a translation of Scripture tonight—not sure which one—that was remarkable primarily for its gender exclusivity. This isn’t a God-talk issue (that’s a whole different conversation). But can we at least not go on and on in worship about the evil man and the good man and the blessed man and the foolish man and how God came to save men. . . .
What, women don’t need saving?
Most parishioners with hearing loss choose not to suffer the hassle and embarrassment of special receivers and headsets. Happily, there’s a better alternative—the broadcast of personalized sound directly through hearing aids.
C. Michael Hawn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 328 pp. $28.00. www.eerdmans.com.
Michael Hawn has given a great gift to North American worship leaders and congregations by providing a firsthand introduction to the most significant international leaders in congregational song today. The conversation on p. 26 offers a glimpse into the relationship between worship and justice in places beyond North America. Hawn has devoted chapters to each of those people and to others:
Justice + worship = passion. That succinct one-liner was offered by Elise, a college student, in response to two days of exploring the relationship between justice and worship at a recent conference (cosponsors included Reformed Worship and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) at The King’s University College. Clearly she sensed that seeking and doing justice and offering worship are essential companions in the Christian life.
Lukas Vischer, editor. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 432 pp. $40.00. www.eerdmans.com.
In the September 2001 issue of Reformed Worship (RW 61, p. 2), I reported on a trip to Geneva to attend an International Consultation on Reformed Worship. More than thirty people from almost as many countries gathered for a week at the John Knox Center (associated with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches). This book is the result of that consultation.
I would guess that some readers of RW will find the theme of this issue, namely, worship and justice, a bit exotic; rather like yoking together a horse and an ox! Perhaps the editors were at their wits’ end to find a topic that had not already been treated. Some may even find the topic worrisome: if we aren’t careful, the social activists will take over!