The god of the innovative is hard to resist. While this issue of Reformed Worship encourages us all to pay attention to how multiple intelligences and multiple learning styles inform worship planning, we need to do so with thought and discernment. This article causes us to pause and to take the time to think about what we do in our worship. Nothing is value-neutral.
If you’ve been anywhere near a computer in the last decade, you’re familiar with the phenomenon called “going viral.” It’s what happens when email inboxes, websites, and social networks light up like postmodern switchboards at the discovery of something new: the video of the cat doing that thing, the unexpected hit single, or that new author nobody’s ever heard of before who’s written something incredible. Suddenly, with unprecedented speed, everybody knows about it.
The Lord’s Supper is the pivotal feast that celebrates the victory of God, which he shares with each person in his kingdom. Here we gratefully acknowledge our inclusion in the community that God has designed. Here we confess our reluctance to demonstrate the full power of the gospel on our lives together, particularly as it pertains to the lack of hospitality and grace extended to others. Here we all recommit ourselves to following the example of Jesus—the Host at the table—who calls us, in view of his sacrifice, to serve others with humility and love.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
Forty or fifty years ago, there wasn’t much question of what you’d find when opening a hymnal: congregational songs displayed in four-part harmony. Glorious SATB! There is nothing like the sound of a congregation raising its praise in a robust balance of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Many of the best singing congregations in Reformed, Mennonite, and Lutheran traditions don’t even need the support of an organ or piano to complete their harmonies.
Many hymnals have a large section devoted to Christmas. In actual practice, this section gets used throughout Advent (thereby shortchanging the character of Advent). If you take a few moments to page through the Christmas carols and hymns in almost any hymnal, you’ll find that narrative and folksy, sentimental lyrics easily outweigh songs with a theological treatment of the meaning of Christ’s incarnation.