Worship -- taking a closer look: A four-week teaching series with resources for worship planning, sermon discussion, and home devotions, page 1 of 2
Sermons on praise in the narrow sense (Ps. 95) and on worship in all of life (Rom. 12) are immensely important to preach. But suppose that you want to preach about the worship service, the liturgy, the event of gathering in Jesus’ name (for more on these three meanings of the term worship see p. 46). Perhaps worship has become a source of conflict in your congregation. Perhaps you want to deepen the congregation’s experience of common worship. To preach about worship, what text would you preach? Where in Scripture would you look?
Q. In our congregation, we’re spending a lot of time and money on the worship service. But don’t we worship in all of life? Why do we put so much energy into the worship service?
Q. If we show up on Sunday morning to “worship,” why is there so much opposition to singing worship songs? Isn’t that the whole point?
Weddings are a lot of work! One aspect of my own wedding that was the biggest shock to me—and probably to anyone who has helped plan a wedding—is how much time and energy are focused on an occasion that is over after a few short hours. All that effort sometimes feels like a waste of time and talent! So what follows is a banner design that—though constructed specifically for a wedding—can be used throughout the year to illustrate the theme of Christ-centered relationships.
RW 16 WEDDING RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON THE WEB
Here’s a first for Reformed Worship: we’ve made all the wedding articles and resources from past issues of Reformed Worship available on our website: www.reformedworship.org. Most of the resources come from RW 16, our first wedding theme issue. We’ve also included one resource from RW 47:40. You’ll find resources on wedding customs, a wedding checklist, music suggestions, and much more.
In Sri Lanka, the couple is asked to join hands. The pastor thenpours warm water over all four of their clasped-together hands,collecting it in a basin he holds just beneath their hands. He asks,“Can anyone separate the water in this basin, sorting out which watertouched the hands of the groom and which water touched the hands of thebride?” He then states emphatically, “So also you are no longer two butone, and from this day forward, all that passes through your handsbelongs neither to the one, nor to the other.
Worship -- taking a closer look: A four-week teaching series with resources for worship planning, sermon discussion, and home devotions, page 2 of 2
Sample HomeLink Devotion
Monday, Week 3
Read Psalm 19.
Our first wedding theme issue, ten years ago (RW 16; June 1990), has remained one of our most popular, even though we ran out of back issues long ago. We still get requests to reprint it from pastors who continue to use their worn copy for wedding planning sessions with couples. And we’ve also heard many requests to do a new wedding theme issue. So we decided to do . . . both! (See p. 47 for information on getting RW 16 on the Web.)
Baker’s Wedding Handbook: Resources for Pastors. Paul E. Engle, ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994. 183 pp. $16.99. 1-616-957-3110; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample services from a variety of denominations, all taken from official sources of those denominations. Also some alternative services (a “brief” service, a contemporary service, remarriage, renewal of vows, and so on.) Also includes some resources for wedding rituals (unity candle), alternative vows, Scriptures, prayers, and homilies.
Heavenly Father, our Creator and Redeemer, we bless you and praise your name.
From the very beginning you made male and female, and longed for men and women to find love and to create new life together in marriage. Marriage, at its best, wonderfully helps us see your love for us and our faithful love for each other.
You have blessed the relationship of your children [name] and [name], and have so joined them together that they might mirror the union of Christ with his Church.
I should have known better. It was, granted, quite a strange request. Almost bizarre. But I thought I could work with it. I thought that perhaps it could be made into something meaningful; something, in fact, faithful to God’s Word. Besides, it was a garden wedding—an informal setting compared to a sanctuary. Perhaps in that context it just might communicate.
Ten years ago, Joe Galema prepared an extensive list of organ and vocal music for our wedding theme issue (RW 16, June 1990). Here he provides several new pieces with very complete and helpful information, including publisher, suggested use, key, timing, and level of difficulty.
Rather than repeat the entire original list (of five very full pages), we present here his additions. However, the entire updated list is available for downloading from our website: http://www.reformedworship.org.
“Household of Faith” by Brent Lamb and John Rosasco. Solo version in The Greatest Love (Sparrow; cassette available); duet version (low, medium/high voice) in Wedding Music (Word) and Enter In—101 Solos and Duets (Lillenas); moderate.
A couple’s commitment to build their marriage and family on a Christian foundation. For the conclusion of a marriage ceremony or during the unity candle ceremony.
Some weddings are primarily a dialogue between the wedding couple and the presiding minister, but it needn’t be so. Inviting the gathered wedding guests to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” provides a corporate opportunity to express musical praise for God’s love to us, to offer sung prayers for the wedding couple, and to encourage everyone to practice the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Each denomination has one or more wedding forms that are good starting places for planning a wedding service. Many other creative resources are also available. Several samples are included here from sources briefly reviewed on p. 45.
Affirmation by Families and Congregation
Do you, the families of [name] and [name],
give your love and blessing to this new family?
We (I) give our (my) blessing and promise our (my) loving support.
Wedding Wonders: How could she tell her daughter that life would be so much worse--and so much better--than her wedding?
With a month to go before the day to end all days; with little left to plan but some finishing touches on the gourmet lunch Crissy had finally decided on (after rejecting her mother’s advice to keep it simple); with what seemed an entire year of intensive research and development on weddings behind both of them; with Crissy’s crumpled Kleenex still sitting on the table, wet with tears shed voluminously about whether she’d picked the perfect colors—Anne Blanchard, mother of the bride-to-be, grabbed a bottle of wine from the cupboard abo
Brief notes on books and resources from various Christian traditions
Hymns for September, October, and November
For many—especially in our churches and schools—autumn is a time of new beginnings. What better time to sing to the Lord some new songs?
Earth and All Stars
"Let them praise the name of the Lord!" The words of Psalm 148 exhort all creation to join in praise of God. In a similar way, Herbert Brokering's hymn text, "Earth and All Stars," calls the universe to unite and "Sing to the Lord a new song."
During this past year we have witnessed many great historical events. We have seen walls of hostility crumble and have been challenged by profound political changes. We have noted the important role of the church of Jesus Christ in many of these changes.
A Reading for World Hunger Sunday or Thanksgiving Day
Narrator: Stomachs protruding, bulging sore. Two boys. Two reasons.
First World Boy: Mom, can I have more turkey?
First World Mother: Help yourself—there's plenty more.
Third World Boy: Mom, isn't there anything to eat? My stomach's
Third World Mother: Maybe tomorrow.
Narrator: One mom laughs. The other mom cries.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with
Lord of lords, Creator of all things, God of all things, God over all gods, God of sun and rain, you created the earth with a thought and with your breath.
Lord, we brought in the harvest. The rain watered the earth, the sun drew cassava and corn out of the clay. Your mercy showered blessing after blessing over our country. Creeks grew into rivers; swamps became lakes. Healthy fat cows grazed on the green sea of the savanna. The rain smoothed out the clay walls; the mosquitoes perished in the high waters.
I'm at the age now where I'm getting invitations to weddings of the next generation: nieces, nephews, and children of friends. Weddings haven't changed that much from a generation ago. For that matter, weddings have stayed remarkably unchanged for centuries. They, along with funerals, are just about the only ceremonies left in our culture that are broadly celebrated in similar ways.
Planning worship that becomes a meaningful dialogue between God and his people requires careful attention to each part of the liturgy. Every call to worship, response, assurance of pardon, and hymn should contribute to the theme of the service and to our ongoing conversation with our God.
In the series of service plans that follows I have attempted to emphasize that dialogue. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians provides an ideal framework for a series of services that focus on thanksgiving.
The Book of Common Prayer calls marriage a "holy estate which Christ adorned and beautifiedwith his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee." I like that very much, calling marriage a holy estate. And I'll tell you why.
For organ, other instruments, solo voice, and choir
Although nearly all church weddings include organ music, many couples seem uncertain about the place for other musicians in the ceremony. Should family and friends who are musicians be encouraged to do their part to make the occasion joyful and memorable?
A seasoned pastor answers common questions couples ask.
Some couples take months, even years, to plan their marriage ceremony. Others organize this special event in a much shorter period of time. But regardless of the amount of time they put into planning, every couple wants their ceremony to be meaningful and memorable.
What songs may be sung in a Christian wedding? Must we use one of the "traditional marches" for our processional and recessional, or is other music available? Must the music preceding the wedding always be soft?
As couples begin to think more and more seriously about their weddings, questions about music are inevitable. A Christian wedding is a sacred service, reflecting a scriptural view of love and marriage. How can we convey that same sacred theme through music?
Family, church, and state all play a role
The bride was obviously nervous. It was only the rehearsal, but she showed signs of panic that didn't bode well for the next day's big event. With a gentle touch, the pastor led her aside.
Our church's librarian, Darcy Bulthuis, personally subscribes to your magazine and has made it available to us through the library. As a result, our worship committee, established in the spring of 1988, has made full use of the resources provided by your publication-the litanies, prayers, hymns, and suggestions for dedicating the new Psalter Hymnal.
Too often the wedding production seems to get cluttered with a parade of professional people--musicians, florists, photographers, coordinators—all doing a "perfect" job in a mechanical way. Perhaps that's why it's always rather pleasant to discover exceptions to the rule--to leam, for example, that so-and-so's mother made all of the bridesmaids' dresses or that the brothers of the groom wrote and sang that very touching, yet slightly off-key song for the service or that a favorite niece made 487 of those hand-decorated cupcakes.
ACP AWARDS TO RW
The staff of Reformed Worship is delighted and proud to announce that we received three awards at the annual meeting of the Associated Church Press (ACP), a group established to promote fellowship and foster helpfulness among editors and publishers of Christian periodicals and to stimulate higher standards of religious journalism. RW submitted entries in eleven of the thirty possible categories and competed with eighty other newspapers and periodicals for the awards. We were honored with the following:
Someone needs to keep track
Every wedding involves details that most people don't notice— unless something goes wrong. To help couples plan and prepare more efficiently for their weddings, some churches have appointed wedding coordinators.
A collection of recent hymns that invite the congregation to celebrate
Guidelines for weddings from two congregations
What kind of music is permitted? Do we have to be members? How much does it cost to use the church? How many people does the sanctuary seat?
In the past, couples had little choice about the shape of their wedding service. Out of two wedding liturgies in the back of the hymnal the pastor had his favorite, which he repeated wedding after wedding after wedding.
Confessions of a wedding soloist
The great feminist revolution notwithstanding, weddings remain the sole province of women. I know. I've watched weddings stealthily for years—hidden behind great palm fronds, tucked furtively into the shadows cast by huge pipe organs, or concealed in an out-of-the-way corner of a choir loft.