Prayers for our enemies are prayers for the wellbeing and ultimately for the salvation of those who oppose and hurt us. They don’t excuse sin nor reduce the need to call attention to injustices of all kinds. However praying for our enemies does align us with God’s kingdom building work.
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It seems to me that the CRC has mixed feelings when it comes to liturgical forms. For some they are seen as embodiments of all that is wrong with traditionalism, for others they are seen as a way of maintaining good theology and right practice. For some, forms are dull boring artifacts, for others treasured vessels...
In a recent seminary class, we were reviewing key moments in the history of the church. My colleague Scott Hoezee asked students to think about what church life would have been like in six different centuries. As students reflected on each of these different moments in history, it struck me that in each of them public worship would have been led almost entirely by a single pastor, with the help of a single musician...
As worship leaders we serve as guides. We can take the safe, pleasant, straight and flat path or we can chose something more challenging. The flat path is known and even relaxing; you can enjoy your environment without exerting much energy. The challenging path requires all our senses; it makes us feel alive, and gets the adrenaline pumping. It offers great vistas, many rewards, but yet demands work; it isn’t easy. I think in general churches need a mix of the two sometimes in the same service. There are times for stability and there are times for challenges.
Jamie Smith recently gave a lecture in which he said that repentance and assurance in worship are remarkable formative practices that are indispensable to the Christian life. He noted that on Oprah, we can find a form of assurance ("you're o.k.," "just be yourself"), while our shopping mall elicits shame or anxiety in all of us ("none of us measure up to the standards of the good life projected there.")
I have learned a lot from Mark Charles. Mark is a veteran blogger and a long-time CRC member, who writes very thoughtful pieces on cross-cultural exchanges, especially for members of the church, from his home in Window Rock, Arizona. This piece is the fruit of Mark’s trip to Siberia for a gathering about culturally relevant worship practices. I especially like Mark’s honesty about the unsettling quality of encountering worship practices that are new to us.
What if you could find five people in your congregation, perhaps each representing a different decade (one child, one teen, one thirty-something, one fifty-something, one-eighty something)to tell you what single Psalm verse best expresses the praise and thanks that they personally long to offer God. The results are likely to be inspiring. Someone might choose a verse from Psalm 150, another a verse from Psalm 30, another a verse from Psalm 63.