Painting entitled “Cruciform Worship” by Providence’s own Dr. Elfrieda Lepp-Kaethler, Assistant Professor of TESOL – This piece of art was inspired by several Didaskalia articles. The Christ-figure on a cross, bent with the weight of his body holds ancient Christian symbols of lion and lamb, bread and wine, woven into the head and shoulders. A cruel ‘whip’ of mirror shards strikes the Christ but rebounds in gold and white of Resurrection glory central to the church calendar. The calendar emanates from the Christ-figure, with black yarn and traditional colors delineating the seasons (blue and pink for Advent, dark purple for Lent, green for ordinary time…). Expanding circles point to the ripples of the Christ event in its formational force in the church through the ages. Red poppies hang in a radius, alluding to the grim realities of war and the “uneasy tensions between the gospel and Canadian civil religion” (Robert Dean). The enlarging circles orient communities of worshipers toward ultimate realities in cruciform postures (Joshua Coutts). The edge of the painting imagines silhouettes of the worshiping church held together by scraps of sacred music infused with gold threads — “rhythms of grace” (Steve Bell and Glen Soderholm) circling back to the Christ-center.
OTTERBURNE, MB – by Dr. Robert Dean, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics – Most recently, the journal of Providence Theological Seminary, has been relaunched. While Didaskalia has always aspired to make high quality interdisciplinary scholarship of a theologically reflective nature available and accessible to the broader church community, a new editorial board has taken the opportunity to reimagine ways of more effectively ministering to and with the local church.
In addition to peer-reviewed essays and thoughtful book reviews of recent works, future issues will typically be devoted to a relevant theme for the contemporary church. It will include features such as interviews with leading practitioners and figures in their field, and exemplary sermons with commentary from leading homileticians. The most recent issue focuses on the theme of worship and includes an interview with Canadian songwriters and worship leaders Steve Bell and Glen Soderholm. The following is a brief excerpt from that conversation.
Robert Dean: What is one word of advice you’d give to pastors and worship leaders desiring to lead God’s people into a richer encounter with the living God?
Steve Bell: You can’t take somebody where you’ve never been. A shepherd presumably knows where the water is and where the green grass can be found, even if that sometimes means navigating the flock through terrifying territory. This is somewhat different than thinking of worship as creating exuberant experiences for people through slickly produced worship performances. Not only is this an unhelpful way to think about worship, we are never going to be able to put on a show that can compete with The Stones or U2 or provide entertainment that comes close to what Netflix has to offer. Let’s focus on getting our people to the clear waters and the green pastures. This will require some patience, as there’s going to be timidity in the flock, especially if we are approaching a dark valley. If the church is going to shift away from the arena rock vision of success, the integrity of its leaders will become increasingly important.
Glen Soderholm: First, know the story that you find yourself in. Second, connect to a tradition that gives you some accountability. It might be liturgical or maybe denominational, but don’t just go out and be a solo artist. Third, find a few people who will tell you the truth. Finally, to echo what Steve said a moment ago, when Jesus teaches about the kingdom, he seems to always talk about its qualities as being small and slow and hidden. So prepare yourself, especially in this context, for something slow and small that may appear insignificant and be shrouded in mystery. Don’t be ashamed of it. Because if you start buying into the cultural myth of success, you’re going to find yourself compromising all over the place.
The Worship issue is available to all who are interested. You can find more information about how to get your copy of this issue at www.prov.ca/didaskalia.