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Content about Liturgies

August 31, 2008

We distinguish between these holy books
and the apocryphal ones. . . .
The church may certainly read these books
and learn from them
as far as they agree with the canonical books.
—Belgic Confession, Article 6




May 31, 2007

For a background on Vertical Habits see Betty Grit’s article on page 4. —JB

Connecting Vertical Habits in worship to vertical habits at home and in our everyday life brings us one step closer to making those habits our natural response. The easiest way to keep those habits fresh is to incorporate them into your family or personal devotions. Here are some suggestions for an individual, family, or small group devotional time using the psalms, as well as ideas for incorporating two psalms into a Vertical Habits worship service.

May 31, 2007

May 31, 2007

When children are young, they learn words that build relationships. Some come easily: “Help!” “Why?” Parents and grandparents persistently teach them to say to others: “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” We celebrate as these words become habits. When a child without prompting tells her brother, “I’m sorry,” we know that these words are beginning to shape her life and her relationships.

March 1, 2007

Our church purchased an LCD (liquid crystal display) projector two years ago. As we incorporated this new technology it was important to us that it would not distract from worship’s narrative but support it as we made the ancient come alive in the present.

March 1, 2007

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’re not always in the “right” frame of mind to plan or lead worship. Much as we might hate to admit it, outside factors do affect our view of worship at a Tuesday night planning meeting or a Sunday morning service. We may be struggling with financial issues, grieving the loss of a friend, or dealing with a family member’s difficult illness. Or we may just be tired and crabby after a long day or a traffic jam.

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

March 1, 2007

Have you ever stumbled across a phrase in your reading that was so packed with truth you were compelled to stop and reflect? Like a delectable dessert that needs to be lingered over, or a favorite book or movie you return to again and again, you roll the phrase over and over in your mind.

March 1, 2007

In August 2006, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sponsored an amazing trip to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Nine Institute staff members, myself included, spent a month meeting with worshiping communities there.

September 3, 2004

Our Advent series was prepared by a group of Christian Reformed pastors and others from five different congregations in and around Listowel, Ontario. This peer mentoring group, which calls itself “The Preaching Group,” is also part of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program sponsored by the Christian Reformed Church and funded by the Lilly Foundation.

June 3, 2004

On February 18, 2003, a Tuesday morning, Immanuel Christian Reformed Church of Brampton burned down almost completely. Many of us stood that morning watching the firefighters struggle to control the flames as we struggled to comprehend what was happening. The congregation experienced mixed emotions. Erick and I had been in Brampton for less than a year, so we hadn’t yet become attached to the building; others struggled, knowing that the building had been in need of expansion or revamping to become a more functional space.

June 3, 2004

When words fail us, whether in times of joy or sorrow, it is often the words penned by another that help us give voice to our soul’s prayer. Maybe the written prayer expresses our thoughts so profoundly we use the same text, or maybe it helps free our own tongue to form a new prayer. But where do we find those prayers? There are many great prayer books, but another readily accessible source is the Internet. Many good sites provide prayers and other worship resources free for use in congregational worship.

June 3, 2004

In a culture obsessed with health, it is perhaps too tempting to describe everything in terms of health. But health-related metaphors are easily understood and often are illuminating—the kind of metaphors that communicate well in church newsletters and choir bulletins.

June 3, 2004

This service was prepared as a pastoral response to a series of deaths, illnesses, and other traumatic events suffered by our congregation over a short period of time. The lights of the sanctuary were dimmed. A table was set up in front of the pulpit and draped with purple and black cloth. The pulpit Bible served as centerpiece, surrounded by approximately fifty (unlit) votive candles in clear glass containers. A cross was set up in a front corner of the sanctuary with a small table draped in purple in front of it. A Christ candle was lit on this table.

March 4, 2004

Reformed churches are rediscovering the joy of evangelism in their congregations. The Heidelberg Catechism says that our faith in Christ comes from the Holy Spirit, who produces it in our hearts “by the preaching of the holy gospel” (Q&A 65). And believers must use their gifts that “others may be gained to Christ” (Q&A 86). At Corinth Reformed United Church, we are discovering new ways to share the good news.

March 4, 2004

This festival of song based on Romans 8 was the concluding service of the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, January 2003. It would be especially appropriate for use anytime between Ascension and Pentecost, or as background material for any service based on a portion of Romans 8. The entire chapter of Romans 8 was proclaimed from memory by different people who had been coached by Dennis Dewey (see RW 65). For this service, we celebrated in song the gifts from the body of Christ from many times and places, united by the power of the Spirit.

—ERB

March 4, 2004

For the past three years our church has planned a hymn festival service to mark the closing of the choir season before the summer break. We are a medium-sized congregation (400 members) blessed with several instrumentalists. In addition to organ and piano, this year we were able to add two flutes, four violins, and five brass players.

March 4, 2004

The church confesses that God is the maker of heaven and earth and of all things within them. This conviction about origins has great implications for the way we view the world around us. We care for this world, we see beauty in it, we recognize God’s glory expressed in it, we aim to protect it, and we grieve when it is abused and damaged. The church also confesses that God has created all human beings in his own image.

December 3, 2003

The title for this service is the same as the title of the funeral service in the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Westminster/ John Knox, 1993). On Easter Sunday, we bear witness to the dying and rising of Christ as well as to our own dying and rising with him (Rom. 6:4).

December 3, 2003

As our church made its way through a yearlong focus on the Old Testament (see “From Adam to Jonah,” p. 10) we wanted to show the relationship between the Old and New Testaments during the seasons of the church year. It’s a challenge to take seasons like Advent and Lent, with their decidedly New Testament story lines, and remember them with Old Testament passages. But we felt the Old Testament could give us a fresh perspective on these New Testament stories.

December 3, 2003

What’s the best way to present the doctrine of the atonement at a conference for worship planners and leaders? One way would be to suggest Scripture texts and songs that focus on this teaching of Scripture. But Donald Hustad, Carl Stam, and Paul Detterman—all from Louisville, Kentucky—collaborated in a more challenging approach: preparing and walking participants through a worship service celebrating Christ’s atoning work for the sins of the world.

December 3, 2003

The events framed by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the resurrection are some of the most dramatic and theologically important of the entire scriptural narrative. These days featured not only the drama of the triumphal entry, trial, last supper, and crucifixion, but also poignant prayers and prophetic teaching from our Lord. Indeed, John’s gospel devotes eight of its twenty-one chapters to this week alone!

September 2, 2003

In the preceding article, Lester Ruth suggests a calendar for celebrating Advent early, perhaps in November, for the purpose of spending more time during December on the rich doctrines of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Roger Eernisse took a similar approach in this four-week Advent series based on the opening verses, or prologue, to the gospel of John. Each week unpacks different aspects of the meaning of the Incarnation.

September 2, 2003

Why do we make such a fuss about being home for Christmas? Those who have been blessed with happy childhoods may enjoy going home even after becoming adults. We like to be at home with the people we love; sometimes we even long for it.

September 2, 2003

Twenty minutes after midnight one of the MCs at this year’s annual New Year’s bash in Niagara Falls, Ontario, asked the crowd, “How do you like the year so far?” The crowd, which had just enjoyed a rock concert and a fireworks display, screamed its approval, oblivious to a fatal bombing in an earlier time zone that had elicited screams of a different kind. That’s the schizophrenic kind of world we live in.