Friday, April 30, 2010

Capitol Hill Homeless Resources

For anyone in the vicinity of Capitol Hill, Ben Doggett at Care Company has put together a very useful guide to resources for the homeless in that area. If you are homeless, meet with others who are, or are part of a church that has or would like to have a connection with people on the street, this is good stuff to have. The image is not the best, but you can read it just by printing these files. Or stop by Care Co and I'm sure they can provide you with a stack.

More Art in Worship - Fairfax

This weekend, as part of the Fairfax, VA city "Spotlight on the Arts", Truro Church is hosting the First Annual Spring Arts Festival.

One of the highlights of the event will be actor Bruce Kuhn's dramatic presentation tonight (Friday 4/30) at 8pm of "Tales of Tolstoy". Suggested donations $15, $10 for children.

Kuhn, like the more famous (as far as I know) Max Mclean (who has done Broadway performances of The Screwtape Letters and The Gospel of Mark with the Fellowship for the Performing Arts) is part of a movement urging the church to rediscover the sense of drama in Scripture. Kuhn also does dramatic performances of Luke and Acts, as well as The Cotton Patch Gospel. On Saturday, he gives a "Word by Heart" training.

Word by Heart training is described on Kuhn's website thusly:

"Using the tools of an actor and exegete, students imaginatively see what those eyewitnesses saw and say what they meant. If successful, what we ‘see’ will spark honest emotion and rich, subtle communication. This is not ‘pretending’ in the way most people think of an actor playing a role. Students will play themselves as if they had witnessed the event. They will tell of it in their natural voice, using the exact words of scripture from memory. The process applies to all storytelling. The goal is truth-full, technique-free relating of experience that gently compels an audience."

Other events include an art show, concert stage, and artisan marketplace.

Sound fun? See the art show website at, or just show up. The Truro church building is located at

10520 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coming Together with the Art of Worship in DC

In my community group, we are interspersing discussions of spiritual disciplines with our Bible study on Exodus. One member, who led our discussion of worship as a discipline, is a Calvin College alumna. About a month ago, she alerted us to a workshop that Calvin’s “Worship Apprentices” were putting on during their spring break. The worship workshop just so happened to be at Washington Community Fellowship, my fiancée’s and my morning church, so the two of us and our Calvin friend, took out a weeknight to see what we could see.

The Worship Apprentices are a team of ten students at Calvin who plan and lead worship services for the school, study the theology of worship, dedicate themselves to practice it, and teach others about it. They begin the school year with a two-week intensive training and work all year, with heavy involvement in the well-known Calvin Worship Symposium (where every participant proves that they love God through their willingness to travel to Grand Rapids, MI in January). During spring break, the apprentices split up and teach students and churches on each coast about worship. The East Coast team, of whose excellent work we were the beneficiaries consisted of Sam, Tricia, Henry, and Robin, and was led by their chapel coordinator Cindy de Jong. According to our friend, chapel services at Calvin are a real blessing and the worship apprentices do a lot of good work. Based on my limited exposure, I believe it.

The WCF meeting brought together the body of Christ, with participants from WCF as well as Reformation Lutheran Church, Alexandria Presbyterian, Silver Spring Christian Reformed, 3 Strands Community Church (that’s us!), and Christ our Shepherd (including the gang from Care Company). According to the Worship Apprentices’ blog, we were an unruly collection saints, but we were also “wonderfully pleasant” – thanks, guys!

Having allowed a month to elapse before posting, I won’t do proper justice to the session, but suffice it to say that there is ample reason to worship the Lord our God, and many ways to do it. The content was geared towards worship leaders, which to my congregation’s great relief, I am not, but the rest of us learned a lot as well. The theological pillars of our lesson were the simple but important assertion that a relationship with God needs nourishing and an emphasis on worship as a communal experience of the church.

Communal worship helps to nourish our relationship with God through communication. Much like individual prayer, corporate worship can contain adoration, confession, lament, listening, petition and gratitude. It also benefits from confession of faith via creeds or scriptural confessions, replication of certain things we see in God, benediction, peace-passing, healing prayers, and other elements. Doing these things well, which worship leaders seek to teach us to do, develops what the Calvin team called good “vertical language habits.” We are formed by worship even as we go in and participate in it. The more we worship God, and the more broadly we do it, the more natural it will be, and the greater control God can exercise over us.

I particularly liked one exercise in vertical language habits. You can try this at home:

Look at Psalm 19.1-2:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.”

Now, what are some of the themes you see? God’s creativity? His constancy? There are plenty to choose from. Think of a couple more…

Next, using those themes, write a sentence or two to make a transition from this passage to a public time of confession.

For example, I highlighted God’s glory and said, “Now that we know God’s infinite glory, we can more fully see our own weakness, pettiness, and sin. Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.” Now you try!

In addition to good verbal communication habits, the Apprentices tried to teach us other means of communication with God, emphasizing the fact that the whole community has the resources to worship the Lord. They discussed using pre-made art and art created during the worship service. They mentioned dance, and talked a lot about music. The important thing is that every member of a congregation be able to participate, because participation in worship is communication with God.

Finally, we sang several worship songs. I particularly liked two new ones, The First Place by Matthew Westerholm, and Gbemi Jesu (Lift me, Jesus in Yoruba).

I thank God for the visitors from Calvin, and for the chance to share in their lessons with part of the larger body of Christ. May we in this city now listen more closely to the Lord, and declare His name more clearly through worship.

Check out the Calvin worship apprentices’ blog as well as the archive of Calvin’s chapel services.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Washington Post Town Hall on Religion Coverage

The Post is hosting a meeting on its religion coverage next Tuesday. Even if you don't have anything in particular to tell the reporters, it's a good opportunity to hear about things going on in churches and communities across the city...

The Washington Post is hosting a Town Hall Meeting on April 20, 6-8pm, on the coverage of religion and faith. Post staff writers and editors discuss the impact of religion on government, politics and social issues followed by a Q&A session.

If you would like to attend this meeting in D.C. Public Library, 3935 Benning Rd., NE, email

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Gospel Concert

Howard University School of Law Gospel Choir has a concert today. One of my home church members will be singing.

Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Time: 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: Howard University School of Law Dunbarton Chapel
Street: 2900 Van Ness Street, NW (Two blocks from the Van Ness/UDC Metro)

Praise God and enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed! Happy Easter.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
-Luke 24.1-12 (NIV)