In 2009, Emily Brink and Paul Neeley participated in two worship conferences in Pakistan co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM). Rev. Eric Sarwar, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and founder of TSCM, arranged both conferences, one at the Presbyterian Seminary in Gujranwala, and the other hosted by Christ the King Roman Catholic Seminary in Karachi.
The ballots had been counted, and we, the members of the McBain CRC, had voted to close our church after ninety-seven years of service. The decision came after a year of prayer, soul-searching, and seeking guidance from the denomination’s Home Missions office.
Three people were appointed to plan the closing service; we hardly knew where to begin. But we chose the theme “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness.”
When a church closes, its remaining members grieve. But in Christ we are not without hope. The final service of Gallatin Gateway Community Christian Reformed Church in Bozeman, Montana, was a moving expression of remembrance, pain, and faith.
Call to Worship: John 11:25-26
Hymn of Praise: “How Great Thou Art” LUYH 553, PH 467, PsH 483, TH 44, WR 51
The Lord’s Greeting
Passing of the Peace
The problem we humans have, as one of my seminary professors put it, is that people forget. Even in a world where death is all over the news, where gravediggers are always employed, where Ebola and war and famine wreak havoc, people forget about death. We don’t passively forget—that is not possible. But we actively turn our minds away from our own deaths, even if we cannot avoid death in the world around us. We lobotomize the part of our brain that considers the fact that except Christ comes again, all of us will die.
More recently Jeffery Archer wrote a book titled The Gospel According to Judas. Like Short, Archer sought to give insight to the gospel by looking at it in a new way: this time through the eyes of the disciple who betrayed Christ.
There’s a word used to indicate the practice of singing two different songs at the same time. The musicological term is quodlibet. My teenage children call it a “mash-up.” Sometimes melodies or texts are superimposed over one another to demonstrate the musical skills of a composer. Other times it might be done simply for the fun of it.
For Pentecost 2012 at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia, we decided to visually depict the fire of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. We were blessed by the results!
First, using white copier paper from the recycle bin, the worship committee folded 150 paper cranes (but called them “doves” since they were for Pentecost). With a small hole punch we punched a hole near the top of each dove’s back.
In the spring of 2014 I had the opportunity to visit Light of Hope Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia. There I heard about their recent Pentecost celebration. It was clear that the visuals they created for their celebration had a significant impact on the congregation and could be an encouragement to the broader body, so I asked Pastor Edwin Gonzalez-Gertz to describe the process and final visual.
Ascension Day and Pentecost are major events in the life of the Christian church. We confess the truth of Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Spirit every time we repeat the words of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. But what difference do these days make in the life of the average worshiper today? And how do Christians and churches mark these important events?
Have you ever wondered if God might have a favorite color? Perhaps that sounds like a trivial question for theology, but what is the first color mentioned in the Bible? Might it have any significance in God’s design for creation and redemption?
Sometimes I feel weary. I feel weary when I hear about the “nones”—those who claim no religious belief. I feel weary hearing about millennials leaving the church and thinking about all the energy exerted to keep them coming. This week I read about the “dones”—those who used to be involved in the church but simply are done with the whole organizational mess.
This worship outline is adapted from the opening service of the "With a Shout: What Difference Does the Ascension Make for Everyday Life?" conference held on Ascension Day 2006 at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Litanies and prayers marked TWS are from The Worship Sourcebook, 2004, Faith Alive Christian Resources (www.faithaliveresources.org).
This wedding liturgy sets the bride and groom’s story in the context of God’s story. The entire ceremony took about 1 hour 15 minutes total. To help you with your planning, estimated times are included in parentheses behind each element.
If you wish, you may use multiple readers for the readings, which is a wonderful way to include children in the ceremony. Images, song lyrics, and congregational readings (which are not included in full here) were projected on a screen.
Sunday worship can be a strange thing. What we do and say in church can seem a little bizarre, both to those who haven’t missed a Sunday service in twenty years and to those who are warming a church pew for the first time.
Our Sunday evening worship service has experienced a mini-revival.
Though Sunday evening services are part of our church tradition, it appears they’re on the decline. At least, that was the case with our evening service several years ago. The numbers were down to ten or twelve people. And we wondered what to do.
Who pastors your pastor? The answer, all too often, is “No one.” But, like the rest of us, your pastor needs spiritual support. Your pastor needs people to lift him or her up in prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. If you or a group of people in your church would like to support your pastor in prayer, here are four “need categories” to consider.
When a new pastor arrives at a church, it is a time of transition and celebration. Though obviously this pastor will impact most the gathered congregation, his or her ministry and leadership have ripple effects out into the community. This litany was written by council members from a sister church and read during a service of installation.
I love RW, but I attend a congregation with minimal resources, minimal talent, and minimal openness to creativity. It is my congregation and I don’t want to leave. But my frustration is growing. How can I manage the gap between my ideals and reality? Is there anything I can do to help expand our vision?
Make new friends but keep the old. . . . These songs for Ascension and Pentecost are presented in pairs: a newer song attached to one that is well known. Your congregation might appreciate having the company of a familiar hymn while they work to learn a new song. The Pentecost songs are arranged to give you the option of weaving the pair together, moving back and forth between the two songs as best fits your particular worship situation.
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