June 2003

RW 68
THEME: Worship and Justice
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • The following conversation was recorded at Symposium 2003, the conference on worship and the arts held at Calvin College each January. Participating in the conversation were several giants in the field of global song for Christian worship who have much to offer Western Christians from their years of ministry throughout the world:

  • There is a good-sized body of congregational song from which to choose that deals with justice: from the powerful simplicity of an African-American spiritual with its repeated plea “let my people go” to the texts that came out of the nineteenth-century Social Gospel movement to the bold, rich texts of our own time that deal with the complexities of feminist and liberation theologies. Through all of these runs a deep concern for the human condition that comes from an understanding of the implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the world.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 10/20—After LOFT

    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:

  • Just Worship

    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.