What a weekend!

This past weekend was exhausting, but for all the right reasons. Saturday night IBC, the Brazilian congregation which is part of the Central Baptist family, had their inaugural kickoff. It was an amazing event, which blew the roof off of the sanctuary. In attendance were the folks from IBC, representatives from ABCNJ, many Brazilian Baptists from the sponsoring church in Newark, and people from the English-speaking congregation. The place was packed! Check out the video below before reading on.

Two events about Saturday’s event touched me deeply.

First, our Brazilian sisters and brothers like to rock as they worship. It’s not like going to a mega-church concert, though, there is an odd 1 combination of loud and intimate during their singing. As a student of worship, I found it fascinating.

In addition to the Brazilian praise band, our choir was asked to participate in the worship. And, while our choir has a great deal of talent and blends newer music with more classical pieces, “rocking” is not how I would describe them. It’s not how I’d describe Central as a whole 2! As the choir sang I began to become concerned. How would our Brazilian family respond to a semi-traditional choir? Would they be bored? Would they feel it wasn’t spiritual enough? Would they wonder why we were even invited?

I need not have worried. After the first piece, “Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone,” the congregation erupted in applause. After the second piece, “Our God,” they shouted with encouragement and joy. Two radically different styles in one worship service, and both were celebrated. It was beautiful.

The second moment actually came the next morning when one of our older members shared her experience of the celebration. She loved the singing, as well the congregation’s energy. More pointedly, she felt was important for her to be there to support IBC as they started out. In fact, she was glad she was there to represent, “the old people.” She even stayed for “dinner” afterwords, even though we didn’t get down into the social hall until 10:30 3!

Sunday night I was afforded the opportunity to preach during IBC’s worship. Yes I missed most of the Super Bowl, but there was no way I was passing up that opportunity! It was a special moment for me, personally, as it was the first time I’ve ever preached with a spoken interpreter 4. I have always wanted to preach while being translated into another language, and now I have been! As a thinker, I find the very concept of translation fascinating. The idea thoughts can be reshaped and formed for people who literally think differently than the communicator is mind-blowing. Being able to practice the discipline of preaching this way was a terrific exercise.

For me, in the end, one “accidental” occurrence summed up the weekend. Pastor Ronnie plugs his computer into our video system during IBC’s worship, but he projects his screen at 16:9. I wanted to use the screen while I preached, but I project at 4:3. In a high level system this wouldn’t matter. Our $30 KVM switch, however, gets sent for a loop by the change in resolution and sync-rate.

To solve this problem, I simply set up another projector on the other side of the Sanctuary and hooked my computer up to it. This meant one screen presented in English, and the other in Portuguese. That imbalance bothered me, until I looked in the middle of the two screens. In-between English and Portuguese, was a table set with Communion. It is Christ who makes us one.

A fantastic weekend. Now I’m going to take a nap.

  1. To an American, that is. 
  2. That’s not to say we don’t worship passionately, there’s a regulator on style, not our hearts. 
  3. It helped that her ride was staying, but still. 
  4. My choir director reminds me I’ve preached with an interpreter before, though. She used to sign our worship when I first came, and I took great joy trying to trip her up as I preached. She used to sit just below the platform and one time I finished a sentence which threw her hands up into the air, instinctively, I gave her a high five. It’s not something you’re supposed to do, but I couldn’t leave her hanging! 

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