All the readings and music in this service intentionally focus on light; the service is appropriate for Christmas Eve, Christmas, or Epiphany. Multiple songs are listed; we encourage you to choose songs that would work best in your worship setting.
In RW 80 the column “Songs for the Season” featured the song “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” which has been changed in some hymnals to “Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer.” The fact that RW on this occasion did not change the text prompted Bert Polman to write this challenging and informative essay.
"I want more of that!” a toddler loudly asserted during the children’s worship time one Sunday morning. She had just eaten bread during “the feast,” and her appetite had been whetted. Those nearby smiled, the meaning not lost on them. Many in this congregation had a similar desire to experience more, in particular more of God’s nearness through extended times of worship. A typical Sunday service is just a snack. They wanted to feast.
Nestled in the heart of Central Valley California is a church that daily exemplifies community and growth. First CRC in Visalia, currently pastored by Rev. George Vink, is a vibrant and active congregation dedicated to serving the community around them while caring for the spiritual growth and well-being of their own members.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2).
These days hospitality may most often be associated with a Martha Stewart-esque home decor complete with fluffed pillows and fresh flowers placed just so. In Scripture, though, it means something quite different than creating the perfect environment. Instead, hospitality refers to creating a space in which relationships can develop.
I despise change! That may be an odd statement coming from someone who has moved repeatedly, attended four post–high school institutions, and worked as a high school teacher, youth pastor, research assistant, and editor, not to mention the biggest change of all—adopting an infant. Regardless of all that change in my life, I am no fan. Change destabilizes, creates tension, and requires us to adapt. Frankly, it is often uncomfortable, at least for a while.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Ministry
[This prayer is included in the bulletin for people to pray during the preservice music. Worship begins when entering the worship space.]
“Glimpses of Glory” marks the beginning of a new column, Reflections. It is our prayer that Reflections will be a source of spiritual encouragement as you are used by God in the leading of his people in worship. —JB
What we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b).
In “Leading with Light: Practical Ideas for Using Video Projection in Worship” (RW 76, p. 39), Steve Koster outlines various ways to use projected images that enhance rather than detract from worship. In this article Koster asks further questions: What does worship media look like? What can it be compared to? What is its unique identity? Koster suggests that our answer to that question will further influence our use of projection media.
Every Christmas at our church the Sunday school and catechism classes (preschool to grade 12) prepare a program for the evening service of the third Sunday of Advent. When some of the high school students objected to a proposed plan, they were challenged to come up with a better idea. Two of the girls wrote the pageant based on the Christmas story from the book of Luke presented here. Along with a narrator, they included songs and dramatic scenarios for the Sunday school classes.
As we plan weekly worship here at Fuller Seminary, the worship interns and I have been talking quite a bit lately about three persistent and related problems.
Our church renovation committee has been talking about our sanctuary. One of our members thinks this term is misleading. Is “sanctuary” a good term to use in church architecture?
The term “sanctuary” can be misleading if people begin to think that the worship space is in itself more sacred or sanctified than other spaces.
Keith Getty has played an important role in developing modern hymns for the church. With Stuart Townend, he has written “In Christ Alone” (see RW 71, p. 33) and “The Power of the Cross” (RW 71, p. 28), both sung around the world today. These hymns aim to teach the truths of the Bible for multigenerational Christian worship.
We are unable to provide midi files of these songs on RW’s website. However, they are available at www.gettymusic.com.
When singing a hymn, it is often interesting to learn which came first, the text or the tune. And if written separately, who put them together? Those who write new songs for congregational worship fall into three main categories.
RW Goes Online
In case you missed the announcement in RW 80, all past issues of Reformed Worship are now available online at www.reformedworship.org—though without the music and art you’ll find in the print magazine. Beginning with this issue, only subscribers will be able to access the latest issue. You’ll find log-in information on the inside front cover of each issue.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6
Thanks for a Great Finale!
A warm and heartfelt thanks to the many of you who took the time to write and e-mail personal notes of appreciation for the past twenty years of RW; I’ll add them to the delightful memory book I received from the staff at Faith Alive. And what great fun to open RW 80 and see pp. 7-9—three pages the RW staff had not let me see until they were in print. I loved the cartoon and picture!
Our service will begin with fifteen minutes of contemplative music for healing. During this time you are invited to come forward and light votive candles as a visible sign of your prayer(s) of remembrance and hope.
Lighting Candles for Others, Ourselves, and Our World
Music for Healing
Hymn: “Jesus, Remember Me” PsH 217, SFL 168, SNC 143, WR 285
Whether you know it or not, your church likely has the potential for creating an orchestra or instrumental ensemble among your own congregation. Why should you consider doing so? As the psalmist so exuberantly proclaims in Psalm 150, because tambourine and trumpet, strings and flute—even loud crashing cymbals—offer fitting praise to our Lord! You’ll find that using the talents of church members is an excellent way to add variety and interest to hymn accompaniments and other music, as well as involving more people in the ministry of the church.
The large platform in the front of the church I belong to is made of wood. Recently, an hour or so before worship was to begin one Sunday morning, a large light fixture decided it had had enough and fell with a loud clatter to the floor—that is, we assume it was a loud clatter. No one was present to witness it. Because the area of the wood floor where the lamp hit had to be repaired and refinished, everything had to be removed from the platform. The platform furnishings were brought down into the worship space helter-skelter so the repair people could go about their business.
The following service from First Presbyterian Church, Slidell, Louisiana, was planned cooperatively with a conscious effort to include the congregation. The whole congregation was involved with singing and some Scripture reading. In addition, the church choir sang, six narrators took part in various readings (including those marked unison), and the children created covers for the service booklets (which included the words to all the music and readings).