Ritual in Worship
"Aw, Mr. Berryman, we heard that story already."
"I know, but did, you know I have heard it hundreds of times and always find something new in it?"
"It's boring. We heard it before."
"Why is it boring to hear again?"
"We heard it already."
"Okay. Have you ever celebrated Christmas?"
"Then you don't ever need to celebrate it again?"
Should a church celebrate the Lords Supper every week? That's the question Blacknall Memorial Pres-hyterian Church (PCUSA) in Durham, North Caivlina, struggled with in the late 80s and early 90s. What follows is an account of their attempt to introduce weekly communion—with the hope that their experiences may be of value to others who are considering this change.
A few summers ago at a Presbyterian music and worship conference at Montreal, North Carolina, we celebrated the liturgy of Holy Week. Much about the services was new to those attending. For some the experience was far too "Catholic," or at least too "high church," though many others found the richness of text, symbol, movement, and music liberating and enlivening. Certain moments seemed to engender everyone's deep participation.
This ninety-minute service was prepared for a 1993 Reformation Hymn Festival at Third Christian Reformed Church Kalamazoo, Michigan The service was designed by Emily R, Brink, editor of Reformed Worship, who read the commentary. The men who did the readings each wore black robes and hats, similar to the ones shown here.
Candles have a long and rich history in Christian worship. We light them during Advent to remind us that "the true light that enlightens everyone" [NRSV] is coming into the world.
Lord, You Give the Great Commission
September is often a season of renewal in the church. The congregation resumes church activities and programs, and both preaching and music reflect a revitalized purpose and commitment. In this context of new beginnings, new challenges, and new commitments, "Lord, You Give the Great Commission" is most fitting.
According to the church calendar, the church year ends on Christ the King Sunday. This year that Sunday falls just before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day. Although Ascension Day would seem the most appropriate place in the church year to celebrate the reign of Christ, the Revised Common Lectionary does a good job of helping us prepare for this end-of-the-year celebration by suggesting lessons from the epistle to the Hebrews for the concluding Sundays of Year B.
When I was a boy I attended Canada's oldest Christian Reformed church—Nobleford CRC, a country congregation in the Monarch district of southern Alberta. My first memories go back to about 192^ just before Rev. Jacob Mulder became our pastor. The church had grown considerably since it was organized in 1904, from about five families to twenty. But we still shared our new pastor, Rev Mulder, with our "twin" congregation, the Granum CRC, about twelve miles to the west.
Calvin called the ceremonies of the Roman church "alien hodgepodge, theatrical pomp, foolish gesticulations and empty little ceremonies, outward trappings, magical incantations, and perverse rites." (These and many other denigra-tions can be found especially in the Institutes, Book 4). Four centuries later, hardbitten detective Travis Mc Gee says: "To me organized religion, the formalities and routines, it's like being marched in formation to look at a sunset. Maybe some people need routines. I don't."
Call to Prayer: "If You Believe and I Believe," from Zimbabwe
[Available in RW 31, p. 41]
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for God satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
Hymn: "For the Fruits of His Creation," sung to the tune AR HYD Y NOS
[PsH 455, PH 553, RL 21; Tune PH 544]
Many catalogs carry titles of clip-art and banner books. As you might expect, the more liturgical traditions have more to offer, especially Roman Catholic and Lutheran publishers. All the books listed below are available as indicated from the following publishers:
Some months ago the Reformed Worship staff asked a sampling of subscribers a few questions about worship rituals. RW wanted to find out about new rituals that congregations have developed in the past few years—rituals that have enriched their worship life together. In the previous article you'll find an author reflecting on "the way we were" as worshiping congregations. But this article, incorporating responses from those contacted, offers a flavor of "the way we are."
What is a ritual? What is the place of ritual in Reformed worship? How can we be sure that the rituals we use in our worship are living rituals?
Those were a Jew of the questions we challenged Reformed Worship council members to wrestle with last fall during a round-table discussion on the needpr living rituals in worship. The pages that follow contain an edited version of their thoughts and reflections on the subject of ritual.
In the course of my work with our Presbytery Worship Committee, I spoke with a choir director who was very interested in my description of Reformed Worship. Please send her subscription information. [RW 31] is another excellent issue, and your editorial is right on.
NEWS / NOTES
Progress Report on Hymn Search
Twenty-seven new hymn texts were submitted for the first Reformed Worship hymn search. The best texts have been selected by the judges and sent to the more than twenty composers who will now write new tunes for one or more of the texts. The deadline for hymn-tune entries is July 1, 1994.