Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How Do You Worship?

I found an interview online recently that interests and challenges me--in it, Anne Zaki talks with Joel and Amy Navarro, a couple from the Philippines, about what Christians in the Philippines and U.S. can learn from each other. Just an excerpt below; for more, follow the link.

************************************************************************************* What have you found most challenging or shocking as you worship here?

Amy: I still wish I could move more. When nobody else is moving, that situation inhibits me.

Joel: The opulent use of technology and massive performing forces in worship in your mega-churches is always a cause for culture shock. Beyond that, I miss hearing a broader mix of music. Churches need to be politically and culturally sensitive to the makeup of their congregations. I hear music from Mexico and Africa being represented, but I have yet to hear music from Asia, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe.

Being committed to welcoming people of color is a good thing, but housing the culture of people of color is a higher commitment. Churches need to decide: “Even though we are the dominant color here, we must show preferential treatment for people of color. Christ incarnated himself to become one with the poor, the alien, and the alienated.”

What does that mean in practical steps?

Joel: White people need to identify with non-white people, to engage themselves more in the culture of the emotions, the perspective of the heart, and the perspective of relationships. The diversity I seek is not just in terms of color, but also in educational background.

Language from the pulpit doesn't always have to be profound. We do yearn for the eloquent from time to time, but sometimes we need to hear the language of the poor and the uneducated, as a way of engagement. The Jesuits have a term for this – preferential option for the poor.

Amy: So to be preferential also means covering topics that are significant to immigrants, like establishing one's identity, discovering one's role in this community, and carrying out the purpose for which God has brought that person to this new community.

Joel: We rarely see a person of color in the pulpit, challenging people in very plain language. I wonder how many of us internationals are invited to homes of white people. Many churches ask international people to speak in Sunday school on random mornings. How about inviting them to speak in the pulpit?

Amy: Even just once a year, or once a quarter, invite non-whites to give their testimonies. The choice of topics and speakers should reflect the church's commitment to diversity.

What has been instructive that you wish to recreate back in the Philippines?

Amy: I appreciate very much the Sunday when we remember victims of abuse. Until now in the Philippines, physical and emotional abuse is a topic that is rarely spoken in the pulpit. I think it's so beautiful to dedicate a whole Sunday service—liturgy, music, and prayers—to that issue.

Joel: The practice of Communion at Church of the Servant CRC moves me profoundly—the music we sing as we gather around the elements, and as the bread and wine are passed from communicant to communicant. I also find its liturgy excellent, thoughtful, and carefully prepared. The use of the liturgical calendar is especially helpful.
This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship:

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