House Church Talk - Wholly, Wholly, Wholly: Calvinists and conga drums

Klpgr5 at Klpgr5 at
Wed Feb 4 11:33:55 EST 2004

Hi All,

Though I will to receive the slightest touch from the Lord Jesus in any type 
of orchestrated worship service, that touch is fleeting.  Conga drums, choirs, 
solos, guitars, praise leaders, whatever, I prefer to have Jesus and be 
consumed by the fire of His Holy Spirit, and this is possible in any surrounding, 
(in some rare worship gatherings as well!) and has an enduring power to free. 

Let us affirm that the power is the Lord's, and not our own making!

No matter what we do, or who we are, what others do, or who they are, 

WHO is HE?  



Since we (most Christians) accept our inability to follow His example and 
word (commands,)


Deb (in the tundra where power is essential to life in surviving the wintry 

In a message dated 2/3/2004 8:32:45 AM Central Standard Time, 
rjohnson at writes:

> Subj: House Church Talk -  Wholly, Wholly, Wholly: Calvinists and conga drums 
>  Date: 2/3/2004 8:32:45 AM Central Standard Time
>  From: rjohnson at
>  Reply-to: House Church Talk  at
>  To: House Church Talk  at
>  Sent from the Internet 
> This is an interesting view on the evolution of worship in the church today.
> Rick
> Books &Culture Corner: Wholly, Wholly, Wholly
> Calvinists and conga drums in Grand Rapids: a report from the seventh annual
> Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts.
> By Nathan Bierma | posted 02/02/2004
> It hit me when the Sankofa student drum group started playing during the
> Scripture reading. The drummers hadn't blown their cue; they were supposed
> to be playing during the Scripture reading. The moment came during a chapel
> service on Isaiah 60, and when they stood up and started thumping away, the
> reader began: "Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the
> Lord is upon you. … " The driving, growling beat of their congas seemed to
> punctuate the imminence of the prophecy; their rhythm was arresting,
> surprising, and fully fitting. I'd never heard the passage read that way
> before, and never heard its call that way before. It was like Isaiah was
> trying to get our attention all over again, all these millennia later.
> And that's when it hit me: if Calvinists are pounding congas like this in
> the middle of a reading, worship has come a long way in this place and this
> faith tradition. The thought recurred throughout the final day of the
> seventh annual Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts in Grand Rapids,
> Michigan, which the chapel opened. Raised in West Michigan in the Reformed
> tradition, I'm not conditioned to get goosebumps in church. Worship here has
> long been reverent, formal, solemn, and—at its worst—bloodless. It used to
> be that you were no more likely to hear banging congas during the Scripture
> reading than you would be to see elders riding unicycles around the
> sanctuary. You wouldn't have picked Dutch Calvinists—we who took until the
> 20th century to agree that speaking English and singing hymns were allowed
> in church—to call for an international dialogue on cultivating meaningful
> and refreshing methods and habits of worship.
> Yet this past weekend, Calvin College was indeed the destination of world
> travelers from 30 denominations and as many states and provinces, from
> Hungary and Hong Kong, convening for reflection, suggestions, and
> demonstrations of worship that is resonant and not just ritual. The 100-plus
> seminars gradually seemed to coalesce under one theme, intentionally or not:
> worship and wholeness. Worship as an integral part of a spiritual life that
> is whole, and as a celebration of a creation being remade whole.
> Such an outlook on worship is an improvement, said Robert Webber in an
> address, over equating "worship" with "music," as we often do. Shrinking our
> definition of worship in this way, he said, is a nod to a culture that has
> "turned inward," reducing sacred activity to the arena of the self, and
> dilutes praise to the point where it is merely "congratulating God for being
> God." Even worse, it repeats the Greek mistake of exiling the divine to
> beyond the world, regarding him as just "an essence who sits in the heavens"
> rather than the author, intruder, and restorer of the created order. If
> worship is to aptly laud this God, Webber said, it must go beyond slapping
> God on the back for his greatness and begin to participate in this creation
> story.
> After that, Kansas City composer Mark Hayes spoke on incorporating musicians
> and variety into worship in a way that is "seamless," not just a collection
> of performances but threads in a tapestry. As worship planners, Hayes said,
> "Our job is to create and hold a sacred container in which the Spirit can
> move and work … and in which every word sung and spoken contributes to this
> environment." A church benefits from gathering in as many participants with
> as many different gifts as are present in the congregation—even, he said,
> non-singing choir members who serve as planners and coordinators—but it must
> constantly "guard against worship becoming fragmented." Downstairs, Quentin
> Schultze, Calvin's resident offspring of Abraham Kuyper and Marshall
> McLuhan, and author of the new book High-Tech Worship?, was leading a
> parallel discussion about integrating technology into worship.
> Integrating—not just plugging in PowerPoint and letting it dazzle us.
> "Everything must be knit together so that it is whole," Schultze said, "even
> though it is made of many parts."
> Hayes' term "sacred container" was still ringing in my ears as I sat down to
> hear the gregarious Mark Torgerson, professor of architecture and worship
> arts at Judson College in Elgin, Ill., speak on "Sixty Years of Change in
> Worship Space Design," armed with slides of a few sacred containers. If
> worship is to be seamless, it must be woven into its surroundings, and vice
> versa. Torgerson flashed a picture of the soaring Gothic interior of
> Manhattan's Riverside Church, next to a picture of a modest Quaker meeting
> room with wooden benches around a central table. How would prayers differ in
> each place? Would not worshipers address an awesome, majestic God in the
> first, and an immediate, incarnate God in the second? Today, church
> architects attempt to design shapes for both at once. Some of the most
> exotic results can be found in the hidden architectural haven of Columbus,
> Indiana—from the blank expression of Eliel Saarinen's boxy First Church of
> Christ to his son Eero's tent-like, intimate hexagon of North Christian
> Church.
> Whole worship comes only from people seeking to be whole, said Steven
> Garber, Fellow at Calvin and the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C. As
> readers of his book The Fabric of Faithfulness know, Garber is prone to
> quote Bernard of Clairvaux and Bono with the same earnestness. Garber began
> with a line from Donne: " 'Tis all in fragments." The Fall—and, more
> recently, the scattered and amorphous nature of modern life—has wrought the
> "fragmentation of human life," a maddening incoherence, Garber said.
> Restoring coherence requires "a seamlessness between worship, worldview, and
> way of life." There was that word again: seamlessness. Garber noted how
> Leslie Newbiggin's consummate chapter in The Gospel In A Pluralistic Society
> is entitled "The Congregation as Hermeneutic of The Gospel." The church
> tells and lives the story of "a coherent cosmos that was badly marred by the
> fall," and testifies to that story's completion. In the process, worship
> converts spectators of a ceremony into participants in a story. In an
> institution long known for liturgical stiffness, that message kept
> reverberating throughout the weekend like the beating of drums.
> Nathan Bierma is an editorial assistant for Books&Culture magazine and a
> freelance research assistant for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

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