Reply All: May 2022

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The Silenced Middle

I personally identify politically with being in the “silenced middle,” as Shiao Chong ably expressed in his March editorial. … I’ve found it helpful to be less focused on my “right” understanding of issues and more caringly focused on why others believe as they do. It is a relational shift for me, from staking out a position on an issue to first asking honest questions of the other as to what evidence (information) they personally have, what experience they might have gained on an issue, or what understanding they have that leads them to think as they do. By first holding back my political views to hear out the other person, and through information-seeking questions, I find it is a way to hold the other responsible—as long as I withhold any judgmental attitude I might have. It’s helpful to hold the concept that truth is generally somewhere between “opposing” positions. Therefore, as a follower of the Lord Jesus, I’m to humbly seek out that truth.

Charles O. Miller // Willmar, Minn.

Surviving

I identify directly with this article (“Surviving After the Death of My Wife,” February 2022). I, too, lost my wife because of her sudden, tragic, head-first fall down our condo stairs in the middle of the night on Nov. 4, 2020. We were married for 56 years. … I unloaded my feelings onto God with many tearful laments. I persisted in many such prayers until God gave me his peace to accept his will in allowing her death to happen first (Phil. 4:6, 7). … I recommend to all people who have experienced a spouse’s death to do what is not in our culture but is in the Bible: persist in such prayers with tears while asking for God’s peace. He will give it to you as he has to me.

Bruce Leiter // Hudsonville, Mich.

Inclusive Praise and Worship

I appreciated the February 2022 Vantage Point recommending at least one hymn per Sunday. As an organist for 60 years and a bass guitarist for 15 years, I greatly appreciated a comment made at a Calvin Worship Symposium session on intergenerational worship—namely, that good blended worship can happen when everyone comes to a service expecting to sing one song they don't like! Younger members often come to appreciate well-chosen hymns, and older members can actively participate in many contemporary songs that have good lyrics, melody, and rhythm and are also singable. Other songs fade out in a year or two. Churches that have thrown out the organ should use piano and varied orchestral instruments for the hymn. 

Dr. Glenn P. Verbrugge // Cadillac, Mich. 

 

Like Ann, I grew up with hymns and organ music in church. But when my children were teens, we began attending a contemporary Christian Reformed church. Though at first I was unfamiliar with many songs, I came to love the worship songs. I still love the old hymns, which our church still sang as well. Some of my favorite songs are contemporary worship songs that include a hymn in the middle or at the end. Maybe we should encourage songwriters to write more songs that have contemporary worship components as well as a verse or two of the beloved old hymns.

Lynn Roukema // Prospect Park, NJ.  

 

I’m not quite 60 yet, so I feel I’m at an in-between age for appreciating both praise music and hymns. I defend both! There is a place for praise and worship songs (as long as the same phrase isn’t sung over and over and over until it’s uncomfortable), and there is a place for the old loved hymns! It is possible and complementary to use both in worship. Our church has done a pretty good job of including both, although I think the hymns are sung a bit more than the praise songs. As a bonus, we have not thrown out the organ—we use the organ and piano often, and sometimes guitar and drums too!

Deb Haak // Borculo, Mich.

 

Our Polarized World

In his article “Our Currently Polarized World,” Daniel Harrell shares from journalist George Packer’s article “How America Fractured Into Four Parts.” Seemingly, the “world” in this context centers on “Free, Smart, Real, Just AMERICA.” Has the “Christian” American worldview become increasingly narrow? Putting our Americanized factions and fights into the center of the persecuted church would be like tumbleweed in the wind. While the “free, smart, real, just” American church knows nothing of persecution in suffering for the name of Christ, … the persecuted church has the greatest comprehension of the incomprehensible love of Christ. Could our greatest undoing be in smugly seeking rightness in the midst of fights and factions? Is that our contribution to “polarizing the world”? Perhaps our greatest calling is to seek shalom in the midst of persecution.

Barb Clouse // Battle Creek MI

 

Human Sexuality Overtures

How is it possible that in the lengthy article “Classis Alberta North Addresses Human Sexuality Overtures in the Round”(online), there was not one word about seeking guidance from Scripture? The Spirit, yes, but who decides what the Spirit says and who he speaks to? Our prayers are with your members who still hold to Scripture as their guide. Why do those who want these changes not join denominations where this issue has been resolved? But no, the CRCNA has learned nothing from 1944, 1992, and probably another few times where irreconcilable differences just created a new church denomination. A gross misuse of time, effort, and paper. 

Harry Boessenkool // Lethbridge, Alta.

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