This service was developed for All Saints’ Day (November 1) or the Sunday evening closest to it. Through the use of majestic music sung by congregation and choir, responsive readings based on Scripture passages and themes, and meditations on martyrs and saints who spread Christianity throughout the centuries, All Saints’ Day can be celebrated in a fresh, festive way.
Once a year, each academic department at Westmont College is invited to host a chapel for the majors and minors in their department. Here in the art department, we’ve used this opportunity to present our “artistic testimonies,” to discuss what might constitute Christian art, and to use works of art from the past as foci for devotional exercises. This year, we’ve decided to ask students to read one of Jesus’ parables of the kingdom, the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.
The weekly head-scratching exercise (“Well, what do we do this Sunday?”) is well-known to preachers, liturgists, dramatists, and musicians. Visual artists, on the other hand, contribute to worship less regularly. That is to say, while congregations enjoy artwork week in and week out, the work of producing that art—a new banner for a new season, a new baptismal font, ceramic pieces thrown for a new communion set—happens, at least for the traditional visual artist, more periodically.
This liturgy was formed around the words of Jeremiah 18. Because it depended upon the visual image of a potter throwing a pot during the service, which complemented the spoken Word of God, it was different from any liturgy we’d used before. We purposely limited congregational participation so that the people could more easily listen and watch.
We presented service plans for the three Old Testament fall festivals in Reformed Worship 61 (Sept. 2001). The three springtime Old Testament “religious festivals” are
We used this dramatic reading for Pentecost Sunday at All Nations Church last spring. The text, which comes entirely from Scripture, weaves Old and New Testament together in an attempt to enliven the historical context for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ten days after the ascension of Christ. The reading replaced the usual New Testament Scripture reading and was followed by a shortened sermon.
Each year we try to include a fresh and biblical celebration of Pentecost in our worship. When one member of the planning team offered the idea of using clear glass cylinders with floating candles, our imagination shifted into active gear. These candles could help create the aura suggested by Acts 2, where “tongues of fire” seemed to float around the room.
It was a Pentecost experience! On June 3, 2001, the members of four Lutheran and Reformed congregations in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee gathered to worship God, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ with voice, drum, tambourine, keyboard, and guitar . . . and with songs and prayers from Latino, Asian, European, and African cultures.
How do our sisters and brothers live and worship in Cuba, a land stereotyped for decades as hostile to Christian worship and witness? What can we learn from those members of Christ’s family? The story of their interwoven life and worship challenges and inspires far beyond their borders.
List the five points of Calvinism,” I asked the congregation one Sunday at the start of a service. “We often use the mnemonic TULIP to help us remember what they are, so let’s work our way down the list, starting with T.” “Total Depravity,” came back loud and clear, but after that the sound level decreased noticeably with each successive point, and I could see that most of the noise was coming from those with a bit—or more—of gray around the temples.