For several weeks now, I have been preparing the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship website for its annual flagship event: the Calvin Symposium on Worship. From revamping resource showcases to creating RSS feeds, to setting up live streaming and live Tweeting, I spent countless hours writing Velocity code and hacking up some Lucene queries in dotCMS. But the website was only a needle in the haystack of preparations needed to make this 1,800-people, 40-country+ event go smoothly. And today, I got to dive right into that haystack…
Starting with the registration booth for international guests, I quickly realized that like every staff member and volunteer, I would have to perform dozens of tasks at once, making hospitality and Christianity number one priorities. Setting up check-in tables, finding pre-paid book orders, resolving registration issues, and registering folks for events and shuttle buses all at once, just to name a few examples. And that was only early and international guest check-in, so I wonder how it’s going to go tomorrow morning when we open general check-in at 7 am.
Still, none of this hard work came without its rewards. For one thing, and perhaps the most important thing, I had a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I was doing God’s will and working to build His kingdom in a very direct way. Also, the international guest dinner was very exciting. We all thanked the Lord and asked for His blessing over our food with an Argentinian song. What was exciting about this song is that not only did it thank God for the food on the table, and ask for food for those who are hungry, but it also asked for hunger for justice for those who are full. Then, I enjoyed a nice meal sitting by reverends, ministers, and worship leaders from D. R. of Congo and Rwanda. I head some of their stories of joy, suffering, hope and redemption — just like the ones in the Psalms, which are the theme of this year’s Worship Symposium. I learned that they were hungry for food at some point, but just like the blessing, they were now full but hungry for justice. I learned of their culture, their work, and of how different the food tasted here in America! “This pineapple tastes like a banana, ” Rev. Jacob from Rwanda commented, “and I dare not mix this strange rice with any of the other food on my plate.” I enjoyed our meal and conversation, as it made me realize how we can truly be brothers and sisters in God even across nations, wars and borders.
After solving a few computer glitches, I helped at the Calvin Chapel, where we would enjoy a concert by The Psalm Project, a group from The Netherlands. The concert was absolutely amazing! Every song was a Psalm accompanied by contemporary melodies. Everyone joined the singers during some of the songs, adding even more to the excitement. The whole time, I was surrounded by Christians who genuinely showed a deep feeling of fellowship that I had not seen in a church in ages. Simply put, everyone here came to worship God. And everyone did just that.
I am extremely happy to have been involved in this event. I can’t wait to start again tomorrow, even if I have to be up at 6am to get there by 6:50am. Here at CICW and Calvin College, I truly feel like a part of a big, happy, extended Christian family.