Jazz at Four Worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church

Guided by Four Spiritual Principles

Since its inception, Jazz at Four has been guided by four spiritual principles: Reformed, Always Reforming; Pedagogical (Educational); Spirit Driven; and Inclusive. This autumn we are reflecting weekly on one of them, as you can read below.

Reformed, Always Reforming
Pedagogical (Educational)
Spirit Driven
Inclusive

Reformed, Always Reforming

“Reformed, Always Reforming” is a classic motto of the Presbyterian church that comes from the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Sometimes it is written in English as “Reformed and Always Reforming,” which might imply that we are the source of the reforming. But actually, the way it is written in its original Latin, it implies that God is reforming us!

The church reformers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were trying to get to the root of the tradition, but they were doing it by being open to God’s living Spirit as they encountered it in scripture. They were looking back toward the roots of tradition and looking forward to where God might be leading them.

Our Presbyterian Confession of 1967 also talks about how God communicates to us differently according to our different cultures and traditions. It says, “As God has spoken [God’s] word in diverse cultural situations, the church is confident that [God] will continue to speak through the scriptures in a changing world and in every form of human culture.”

Looking back and looking forward, we open ourselves to being re-formed by God. It can be scary; it can be comforting; it can be exciting. Maybe a little of all three! At Jazz at Four, we’re very committed to our Reformed roots and to remaining open to being ever newly reformed and changed by God’s Spirit.

For more reading, check out this interesting article by Anna Case-Winters.

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Pedagogical (Educational)

Each of us has a unique faith journey in which we relate to the Christian faith and its traditions in different ways. Some of us grew up in Presbyterian congregations or considered ourselves Protestant or Catholic. Others of us came from families that were multi- or interfaith in nature. Some who gather at Fourth Church have had no particular religious upbringing.

Jazz at Four is a teaching service, committed to sharing knowledge of Reformed worship as well as Christian scripture and theology in ways that are responsive to our diverse experiences of religion and spirituality. In this service, we seek to educate one another as together we uncover new layers of meaning in the various movements of our worship.

Why do we confess? Why do we gather around the Communion table? What is the history behind a hymn or the context behind a psalm? Drawing on diverse learning styles, we explore these questions and deepen understanding using word and song, prayer and silence, commentary and even conversation.

As you leave each service, our hope is that your vocabulary of faith is broadened and that the mediums through which you encounter God are increased.

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Spirit Driven

In order to follow God’s guidance faithfully today, in order to be open to new and continuous messages that God desires us to follow, in order for us to continue as a relevant faith community, we must be led by the Holy Spirit.

In our understanding of the Trinity—God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit—the Spirit is this living, breathing active force in our daily lives. Sometimes the Spirit speaks directly to us. Sometimes we sense the Spirit’s movement in a communal setting. Sometimes the Spirit shows up in spontaneous and chaotic ways.

Jazz at Four is committed to being a Spirit-driven community, and this posture manifests in unique ways in our worship style. We plan meaningful liturgy rooted in our Reformed tradition, but we also give space for spontaneous prayer, silence, language, and music in worship.

This service is more informal, which allows us to adapt and improvise. We don’t want to be so script-led that we cut ourselves off from how the Spirit might be moving us in the moment with the specific community present that day.

The genre of jazz music also fits well in this Spirit-driven posture. Much of jazz music is improvisational, and its tone and movements can enter our bodies, move our emotions, and jump around the space in ways that that can mimic how we imagine the Spirit moving.

The Spirit connects us with one another. The Confession of 1967 reminds us that the Holy Spirit creates and renews the church as the community in which humans are reconciled to God and to one another. Therefore, the jazz service does not just focus on the individual ways the Spirit works in our life but is attuned to how the Spirit calls us together and summons us to act as a community, as Christians in this complicated world today.

How will the Spirit move us next? We’re excited to follow and to see where we’re led together.

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Inclusive

Since its start more than ten years ago, Jazz at Four has been rooted in the value of inclusivity. Our worshiping community has been sustained by God’s call to welcome all to participation in the church. From the moment someone walks into Jazz at Four, it’s clear that this service is accomplishing something different or new.

Clergy and worshipers are dressed more casually. Jazz and soul serve as our musical guides. The worship leaders lead from the midst of the congregation. The liturgy (worship service) is a poem of levity, beauty, and curiosity—accessible to all whether you are deeply devout or have never stepped into a church. Every expression of our life together is thoughtfully crafted so that no person feels excluded.

To that end, we also work to ensure all feel welcome in the life of the community—particularly those who have historically felt unwelcomed. As printed in our worship bulletins:

Inspired by the radical hospitality of Jesus Christ, Fourth Church welcomes all of God’s children into the life of the church regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, mental health, educational background, economic situation, religious background, or documentation status.

In all we do, Jazz at Four seeks to embody God’s commission found in Revelation 3:8 “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

We welcome all.

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For more information about Jazz at Four, contact Shawn Fiedler (312.573.3367), Ministerial Associate for Worship.