Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
Sing joyfully to God, inhabitants of all the earth:
Life is reflected in the way we worship God.
The great variety of traditions, customs and origins among the Latino people, is manifested in every aspect of our daily life and of course music as a cultural legacy is a very important part of Latino expressions in different contexts.
In different Latin American countries one would see rhythms such as salsa, merengue, bachata, ranchera, cumbia, pasillos, bolero, samba, lambada, vallenato, danzones, rumba, chachachá, and in the last decades, genres such as reggaeton, hip hop, Mexican corridos, etc.
Within the diversity of the Hispanic community, there are representatives of the black, indigenous, mestizo, and white races. Each group has its particularities and its specific way of worshiping God.
Likewise, the Catholic legacy has allowed shrines to be considered as sacred places where good behavior and continued reverence must be prioritized. However, that same legacy of Catholicism has brought various forms of syncretism, both in the ways of praying, worshiping or combining certain pagan practices and rites with praise of God.
But the introduction of Protestantism in Latin America and especially the explosive form as it has developed in the last decades, opened the possibility for our community to express itself in different ways while worshiping God.
Praise God in his sanctuary:
«I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise will always be in my mouth» (Psalm 34)
The way of praising God is part of that immense cultural variety and reflects a diverse and joyful community. The life of worship is something that comes from the innermost part of our being.
Trying to impose certain styles of worship on the Latino believer is somehow trying to remove part of their identity.
However, Pentecostalism has developed a very exclusive form of worship, which requires great movements, dances, jumps, turns and body demonstrations, under the affirmation that this is the way the Holy Spirit moves in the midst of congregations.
Many believers in Latin America have entered this dynamic, because Pentecostalism represents the branch of Christianity furthest from Catholicism and therefore for many it represents the opportunity for true comprehensive change.
For many, worship is a time in which they evoke the pains they have experienced in the past and recognize that the power of God has worked in their lives, therefore tears appear in their eyes and they have different experiences as the congregation sings various songs to the Lord.
If we understand that worship is prostrating the heart before God, we can understand that for many people in our community, the heart has been deteriorated by their difficult pasts; by wars, persecutions, pain and memories, which they now try to heal through music dedicated to praising God.
The contemporary music of singers such as Marcos Witt and Danilo Montero have taken a high priority in the Latin cults and many of these singers have become media figures whom thousands follow and buy their songs.
It is also not uncommon to hear mariachi music used in worship in a predominantly Mexican church, or merengue music in a Caribbean church. Undoubtedly, the instruments used also reflect the cultural aspect, which is reflected in every detail of Sunday worship.
Postmodernism has also greatly influenced the way in which, especially the great churches, use different equipment of lights, sound, smoke, etc., to further captivate their parishioners around a sensitive and emotional experience.
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord:
Is Our Lord God of white, as well as Buddha of the Asians, Muhammad of the Arabs or Pachama of the Aymara?
Jesus Christ came from the heavens to break down barriers of separation and form one of all peoples. That vision can be seen at the end of time in Revelation 7:9: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands ”
The life of worship is something that comes from the innermost part of our being.
But what does this mean for Latinos?
The Latino is emotional by nature, therefore when we worship God, we do not do it only with our lips. We need to clap, raise hands, and sometimes move the body as a way to express what we are feeling. The slogan is that the deeper the experience of the love of God is in the life of each person, the more their emotionality will be manifested in worship.
If you ask a Latino who heads to church on a Sunday morning: What are you going to do there in the congregation? The answer will be: I am going to worship.
But surely if you ask what that means, perhaps many would not know how to explain it.
What does joy mean to a Latino? Not just an internal spiritual experience, but an external sensory experience. If you don’t clap, raise your hands, or move, you surely have no joy or are not experiencing the same as others during that special time.
We come from countries where carnivals, patron festivals and fairs take place in each region and all those traditions are part of the cultural legacy that we often transmit. Therefore, it is sometimes easy to see these kinds of expressions in the churches themselves, in an attempt to transfer something from our countries of origin to the United States, where we now live.
Our contribution to CRCNA
As a diverse community and full of rich cultural expressions, we long to bring a renewal to our denomination in the joy of worshiping our God. If worship includes our whole being, we want to contribute with the different expressions that correspond to our culture and that in a well-directed way, are now dedicated to God.
The learning of the reformed doctrine has allowed our community a greater maturity as to what we are as Christians, which allows us to reach forms of worship and consecration, without losing our identity, but recognizing the need for God to be the center of worship and not ourselves.
We will continue to express everything within us through praise. Gratitude, trust, consecration, petitions, laments, weeping, etc., from our Latin American perspective and under the conviction that God will ultimately make all peoples one who will unite around the throne to worship the one who lives and reigns forever, to Our Lord Jesus Christ.