Every year around Halloween, our worship committee strains brains and resources: How can we memorably, intelligently, and accurately place worship of God above “Trick or Treat” to our increasingly diverse congregation? We have many from various Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds, and some who claim no Christian heritage at all. Thus in 1999 our Reformation Day communion service tried graciously, seriously, yet somewhat lightheartedly, to present three main Reformation-era figures in a conversation imagined from eternity.
Recognizing that some people may be going through difficult times when they worship, our worship committee came up with an idea for a Thanksgiving service that speaks about giving thanks both when we are “in the desert” and when we are “in the promised land.”
Each year near the end of October the congregation at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church gathers for an evening hymn festival. Last year the festival was called “Songs of the Covenant,” a service focusing on various biblical characters with whom God kept covenant. While the hymns and anthems were central to the festival, the pastor’s brief meditation entitled “Why Are They Singing?” set the tone and explained the theme for the entire service.
This service of lessons and carols is rooted in the story of God’s eternal Word made flesh and living among the people. The readings, prayers, carols, and other folk music were chosen to embody this theme.
“The King Shall Come” by Michael Burkhardt, Five Advent Hymn Improvisations (MorningStar MSM-10-004, 1991)
“The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” by David Johnson, Preludes and Postludes, Volume 2 (Augsburg 11-9319, 1973)
Partita on “Freu dich sehr, O meine Seele” by Johann Pachelbel, Selected Organ Works, Volume 4 (Kalmus 3763, reprinted by Belwin Mills)
Having been involved in drama at Jubilee Church for years, I felt inspired to write a dramatic adaptation of twelve songs from Michael Card’s CD set The Life (see right). Our church performed it a year later, involving the majority of the congregation and covering the entire life of Christ in one full-evening production. This issue of Reformed Worship includes a sample—a few songs from the Advent section—for congregations who wish to integrate one or more of these songs into a worship service.
12/2 LOFT planning meeting
When worship leaders get together, they inevitably trade favorite new songs with the eagerness of children on the playground swapping Pókemon cards. Part of this is the earnest desire to find and share with others “the good stuff” amid the staggering amount of new music available today. Another motivating factor is simply a desire to see what others are using in their churches.
After all the busyness of Christmas, it can be a relief to plan a simple service to mark the end of the year. Our pattern for New Year’s Eve has been to invite everyone for a potluck supper, a time of worship, and then a party that lasts as long as people want to stay. Because there will always be some people who have no invitations or plans for New Year’s Eve, we extend an open invitation for this time of worship and fellowship. People come with a hot dish and salad or dessert as well as munchies for the evening.