Can we ever truly experience the grief of Good Friday? We know the ending and rejoice with our Savior that it is a happy one come Easter morn, but that very knowledge keeps us from fully realizing the tragedy that Christ’s death brought to those who lived through it. Whatever their understanding of his ministry, whatever hopes and dreams they had built for the future, all came crashing down before the stark and ugly death he suffered on the cross. Leader, friend, teacher, son—all seemed irretrievably lost.
How familiar are you and other members of your congregation with the Belgic Confession? Although the Belgic is one of the doctrinal standards of churches in the Reformed tradition, its language and format have tended to relegate it to a back shelf when it comes to planning worship. Many Reformed churches have had a long-honored practice of regularly preaching through the Heidelberg Catechism, but few include words from the Belgic in their liturgies.
The questions and answers that follow were prepared by Howard D. Vander Well. For his ideas on how to use these Q & As in worship, see RW 58, pp. 36-37.
Some parents asked our Worship Ministry team to consider ways of drawing children into our worship services, and as a parent of two school-aged daughters and a toddler, I concurred. When I read the Lenten series “Picture Jesus” (RW 54; also available here ), it struck me that the article and the artwork would lend themselves quite well to a kids’ bulletin series. Our pastor had planned on preaching a series in Lent concerning the questions that Jesus asked during his ministry.
Emily Sybesma, is a member of the worship committee at First Christian Reformed Church, Sioux Center, Iowa. She planned the service together with Sue De Young and Ron Rynders; the readings and prayers after the sermon, prepared by Lewis Arkema, are based on the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Service Plans and Sermon Sketches
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.