In most Reformed and Presbyterian churches people do not kneel during prayer. Should they?
About one hundred years ago Abraham Kuyper, renowned Dutch theologian and prime minister of the 'Netherlands, addressed this question. His firm answer: Yes.
In the paragraphs that follow, Kuyper explains that kneeling was still customary as late as 1618, at the Synod of Dort. Various reasons and circumstances led to a change soon after that. But not very good reasons!
It is obvious from the Bible that God is a God of song. God loves music, and the heavens resound with it. He puts a song in the hearts of his people. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, there is singing. Moses leads the people of Israel in song after passing through the Red Sea. His sister Miriam joins and, with a great timbral chorus, dances before the Lord and sings the song of victory: "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously."
Looking Back, Looking Ahead at Changes in Worship: An interview with James F White, one of North America's foremost liturgical scholars
Dr. James F. White is currently professor of liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where he has supervised nearly twenty Ph.D. dissertations on worship-related topics. His sixteen books on worship include A Brief History of Christian Worship, An Introduction to Christian Worship, and Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition, all texts that are frequently assigned in college and seminary courses on worship.
This service was submitted by Ken Baker, pastor of Third Christian Reformed Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He writes: "After preaching a series on the Ten Commandments, I developed a liturgy for a concluding Service of Rededication. Whether as a 'wrap up' service, as in our case, or standing on its own, such a service can play a meaningful role in reinforcing the meaning of the Decalogue in our lives." The readings were taken from different "Responsive Readings of the Law" (PsH p. 1013-1018).
Q. You recently wrote about the shape of the communion table. In our church the question is, "Where shall we put it?"
A. A few years ago RW carried an article, "Where's the Font?" We can now ask, "Where's the table?" Let me answer the question by relating what I have seen in a number of Reformed church buildings.
The Book of Daily Prayer by Robert Webber. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993. 532 pages. Cloth, $39.99; Paper, $24.99.
A Call to Prayer: Public Worship Through the Christian Year ed. by Caryl Micklem. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993.176 pages. $12.99.
This Lenten series works at clarifying an often-misunderstood statement from the Apostles' Creed "He descended into hell," The aim is to teach that Christ's loneliness and suffering intensified as he moved more deeply into the agony of hell. Even his close friends did not understand what was happening, thereby increasing their Lord's loneliness. Finally Christ called out in anguish, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
LENT 1: WALKING INTO PAIN
Edinburgh, Saint Andrew Press, 1994. 700 pp.
Worship books, both denominational and "commercial," are becoming plentiful. This plenitude is reason for thanks; it appears that God's people are working hard on prayer, praise, and worship.
The latest denominational book to cross my desk is the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland. A fine book it is.
In some ways, Judas and Peter were not that different: They both sinned. One could argue thatjudas's betrayal was worse than Peter's denial. But Jesus' words in Matthew 10:33 indicate that Peter's sin was deadly serious too: "Whoever disowns me before others, I will also deny before my Father in heaven."
When the service began, the eight readers were already seated silently around a communion table, three on each side, one on each end. The sanctuary lights were dimmed. Two candles were lit on the table, providing additional light by which to read. The readers each had a copy of the script in front of them and passed a handheld mike to read in turn around the table.
Song: "Were You There" PsH 377, PH 102, SFL 167, TH 260
[played once by solo violin (or saxophone), then stanza 1 sung by all]
We were buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matt. 26:30). As Christ and his disciples sang a hymn following the Passover, let us, in this season of remembrance and celebration, sing hymns with voices united to the risen and ascended Lord.
My Lenten series in 1995 was designed to expose the nature of idolatry ("having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God," Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 95). Despite the prophets' persistent exposure, many of us lightly dismiss the possibility that we have divided, idolatrous hearts. An excellent resource for such a series is No God but God, edited by Os Guinness.
We used the quotes and teasers that begin the sections below in the newspaper ad we ran before each Sunday.
The idea for this series was planted when I first read the words to the carol "White Lent" in The Oxford Book of Carols (London: Oxford University Press, 1965. No. 144). The carol is six stanzas long, set to the familiar Christmas tune ANGEVIN, known to most of us as "O Leave Your Sheep." It was the third stanza that so struck me:
I love to preach, but as I thought back over the lenten seasons of the last decade or so, I found it isn't the sermons of Lent that stand out in my memory. It's the liturgy as a whole. So much of our Reformed tradition revolves around the sermon, but Lent is beyond words. Lent and Easter are about actions. So my advice to pastors as they prepare for this season is, "Preach less in Lent."