At Pentecost the Spirit of God was poured out on people of many nations, on old and young, male and female. St. Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female, we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Worship should be a celebration of diversity and unity. Worship should stretch people’s hearts and minds to seek justice and share compassion. This past year at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, we had a Worship Renewal Grant that provided a series of workshops and performances called “From east to west and north to south, let us praise God; Gifts from many cultures enriching God’s people.” This has been an educational series for our multi-cultural university community and local churches of all traditions. The series included gifts from Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Orthodox, African and African American, Asian and Asian American, and the Euro- American traditions. The program was made possible through a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. As we focused on worship renewal in general, we came to recognize the value of dance and drama to help open people’s eyes and hearts.
In Wisdom dancing with the Vietnamese until the gentle melodies become stronger than the cries of the boat people drowning,
The Word made flesh in stories of people seeking refuge
after the devastation of Katrina, the displacement of Palestinians, the massacres in Sierra Leone,
In the “Amazing Grace” of Korean American children
playing the song on the instruments of their grandparents,
And the Word became flesh in the womb of Mary,
imaged as the Nahuatl Guadalupe, and among the native people of the New World the Word echoed in songs of hope and dignity,
In the sounds of the ancient chant so close to the Aramaic Jesus spoke and strumming of harps and ouds,
Yes, we have seen the glory of the Word made flesh, the image of the unseen God, prying open our eyes to see the Divine reflected in all the peoples of the earth.
The Hispanic Gifts workshop began in the historic San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the United States, and the oldest building in Texas, originating in the 1730’s.
Persons were welcomed not only to this workshop on Hispanic Gifts, but to the whole series which invited us to appreciate each other and to be hospitable to each other.
Full article with pictures continues here Gifts from Many Cultures .pdf 4-25-07