Worship Symposium 2006

I just returned from 3 days of brain-packing, earnest-praising, body-and-soul-exhausting time at the 2006 Worship Symposium at Calvin. Since I was a semianry student, this has been the one of the top three most important things in my own ministry formation. It usually takes me weeks to unpack everything that I bring back from this conference, but here’s a list for now.

  1. My preaching delivery has to change. It is time for me to take the plunge and go beyond my manuscript. It is time to loosen my pulpit-death-grip and use my hands. It’s time to go extemporaneous. I need to spend more time on sermons, and use that time to get beyond the manuscript to outlines to rehearsing to better delivery that is more like me in normal life. And I should be able to do this. I spent two years teaching high school religion–and not from a manuscript, but from an outline, using carefully selected words and illustrations, using my hands, making eye contact. I’ve never been good at diving, but now’s the time.
  2. I love worship that is mixed: worship that uses music from all over the globe and across time; worship that is deeply reverent, uplifting, and soul-plumbing, but also comfortable and even humorous when appropriate; worship that includes all ages and races and genders, and several languages, and different levels of skill, and all gifts. Symposium has fabulous worship. Overall, it hits all these areas, but there are still some that need improving. Most notably for me is the issue of race. It’s getting better at each year’s symposium, but I am more and more sensitive to a roomful of 98% white people. And this is a problem across the board with American Christians: Church is just too segregated. I don’t know how to fix it, but I wish it were different.
  3. I need to spend less time on my couch (and, true confession, with my TV) and more time reading. But this excellent reminder came from Eugene Peterson about reading: there is just too much to read, and as Christians, we need to remember to focus on reading the Bible and being absorbed by that rather than feeling guilty for the pile of books we simply will never have time to read.
  4. The pregnant stomach is a fickle thing. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
  5. I need to spend less time on my couch and more time with people. I reconnected with good friends and mentors this week, and was reminded that I do not always cultivate friendships as well as I should when I arrive in a new place. I’m good at spending time with people for the sake of ministry. I’m not good at spending time with people for the sake of my own well-being.
  6. And, lest I forget, I also brought back a pile of books: a long-coveted leaders’ edition of Sing! A New Creation, which in spite of the awkward name, is a wonderful hymnal supplement that I love; The Worship Sourcebook, and I am happy to report that after thorough inspection it will be incredibly useful for my new life in the PC(USA) although it was produced by a predominantly CRC group; 2 copies of the Wild Goose Resource Group’s Wee Worship–I haven’t been able to find my own copy, and I think one of my pastoral resident colleagues wants a copy, too; and three books from the Iona Community–one on table prayers; one on blessings; and one of daily devotions.

And now, a down day to sit on the couch with my husband and two very sleepy cats, maybe unpack a few things, and catch up on sleep. On Monday, I write the final draft of my profile for my job search and start writing a few cover letters to churches. Scary, but as my friend Mary’s sermon at Symposium reminded us, God promises that we do not have to be afraid.

2 Responses to “Worship Symposium 2006”

  1. Theresa Says:

    Woah, Erica, hi! This is Theresa from CMRS (uh, my husband Matt and I visited you in GR after we had our first baby). I thought about you the other day, and was wondering if you were a pastor of a congregation or a poet or a teacher or what. So I Googled you, and found this page. But I can’t find an email address for you, so I’m commenting here! Mazel tov on the wee one. We’re still in Holland, though not for long, and have three kidlets.
    So happy to see you are doing well! Shoot me an email if you feel like it! Take care.

  2. Mike Morrell Says:

    Hi Erica,

    It sounds like you had a really enjoyable time. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for linking to my site. I hope you find it to be a helpful resource. And, I’ll be putting you in my blogroll as soon as I get the chance.