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So, how was it?! 

Remember, I stayed home from Symposium this year and missed the worship services, training sessions, concerts and camaraderie! If you attended, let the rest of us in on one or two things that were especially meaningful.  Pick any question to help you reflect and share.

  • What refreshed your own soul?
  • What new skill did you begin to practice?
  • Which of the many new ideas will you first try out on your congregation?
  • Who blessed you?  --Made you laugh, made you think, made you cry, made you wonder, broke through your defenses, confirmed your faith, etc. Last year, Ken Medema played the beginning of Messiah’s Comfort Ye as an introduction to the song, There is A Redeemer.  When I recognized the connection, I wept.  And the tears washed away a layer of soot, exposing tender ground for the Spirit to work during the rest of the weekend.
  • What one idea do you have for including the Psalms in your own church’s worship?
  • What one new resource are you most eager to start using?

Don’t leave the rest of us hanging!  Help us out.  Share your experience with us.  Maybe next year, you’ll be the one stuck back at home, waiting for us to report to you!




P.S.  If you have specific suggestions, thanks, or critique about Symposium 2012, please contact the good folks at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.  This blog is intended to multiply the experience and learning, not to evaluate the conference. 


There were plenty of great moments this year.  I enjoyed drumming my worship to God with Eric Nykamp.  I picked up some great ideas for using our bodies in worship (adults and kids!) with Julia Start Fletcher. NT Wright was outstanding. John Bell is thoughtful.  Anne Zaki brought the Word from Psalm 13.   But sometimes the best part of the snowposium/symposium happens when I close my eyes and listen to the congregation sing.   Now that's a taste of heaven, especially with several different languages, all sung at the same time.  

The worship was really wonderful - and as the Psalms permeated every aspect of Symposium and began to be realized more and more by those who attended from around the world, there was an incredible spirit of ministry and awareness of God's presence. There was a depth and richness that grew out of soaking ourselves in the Psalms for 3 full days - entering both the pain and the joy of the Psalms and scripture. Highlights for me were the worship services, and especially the Psalm Festival on Friday evening. Singing with 1200 people who love to sing is amazing. After working on Psalms for All Seasons, it was especially rewarding to see people using it, and being blessed by it.

I really appreciated the workship on preaching by Frank Thomas.  I find that some of the best sermons are ones that grab hold of my attention like a well written story with a good beginnign to hook my attention, a problem that needs to be sorted out or solved, and the satisfying resolution.  Thomas added another element--Celebration.  I'm still processing what that means and how it can be included in the sermon or if it is included already in worship by the song of response.  I loved this focus on celebration as it helps us to live into the life that we are given by Christ.  Hmm...still thinking about it.

It was my first time at Symposium, and I was very impressed and enriched by the breadth of topics and angles as well as the sheer quality of organization. Both Brueggeman the gadfly and Wright the erudite stirred me with the profound awareness, arising from the Psalter, that our worship accesses for us an alternative reality, a consummately different order of life, a "counterworld" called the kingdom of God. In good, well-focused, holistic Christ-exalting worship we come to participate in what we are celebrating, viz. a God-drenched context of living full of hope to replace despair, justice to replace injustice, abundance to replace greed...and shalom to replace all lack of well-being--all so utterly and gloriously other, so very subversive of the order of life the world around us serves up! Even in embracing the deep-bluesy-anguished cries of the complaint psalms, we affirm with suffering hearts (and often bodies) before the face of God what is wrong with the present order only in light of our deeper trust in God to rectify and reconcile all things to Himself in Christ as He establishes His new order "on earth as it is in heaven." I must say I fell in love all over again with the all-surpassing goodness of our God and HIs holy intentions for us and our world: again I'm in trembling awe before "the splendor of His holiness."

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