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November 11, 2014

This litany encourages us to acknowledge the frantic pace of our lives, remember that God knows us inside and out, and take time to be still.

Leader: We sit here trying our best to steady ourselves for an hour or two, but you know us, Lord. You know the distractions that tug at our minds, the worries that vie for our attention, the burdens that betray our affections.

November 11, 2014

This Good Friday service, which is based on the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9, combines teaching with Scripture and song. It’s a quiet, meditative service meant to provoke deep reflection, so consider lowering the lights in the sanctuary and asking congregants to enter and exit in silence.

August 22, 2014

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak.” (Psalm 50:7)

“To hear God speaking, to listen to his voice, does not necessarily involve the auditory senses, but is like a field of vibrations that surround one’s life and one’s horizon with an engaging reality that overwhelms what is in sight before one.” (from Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar [Ignatius Press, 1986])

August 22, 2014

In late 2011 we decided to write a Christmas song for our congregation and to have the children of the congregation help us. We invited them to bring lyrics or ideas to include in the song as they came forward for their time with the pastors. They did so for a four-week period.

We (Veena Kulkarni and John Groen) then sat down and began crafting the lyrics. We had no tune in mind, but the lyrics came together with little resistance. They seemed to have a certain logic to them. After a couple of meetings they were in place.

August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

As Christians, sharing the gospel message should be something we do as naturally as breathing, both in word and in action. This litany encourages us to share Christ daily with all those we meet.

Leader: Eternal God, you give us a guide for our lives in your Word.

All: Love the Lord your God with all your heart,

Women: with all your soul,

Men: with all your mind,

May 9, 2013
The following service was used for the opening of the meeting of Christian Reformed church leaders (classis) in the Southern Alberta/Saskatchewan area in October 2012. It functioned as a connection to the previous summer’s bi-national leadership meeting (synod) at which worship focused on each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. All the music chosen can be found in Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.

Gathering Song:

February 19, 2013

Unchurched people often look at local churches as being completely unrelated to each other. One of the best ways to testify to the truth of the gospel is by demonstrating the unity of Christ-centered churches. Promoting community-wide worship can help do this.

February 19, 2013

Second Corinthians 5:7-6:2 is one of the great declarations of the new life given in Christ. In this passage, Paul calls believers to accept and embrace the new identity given to them in Christ. They have not merely adopted a new philosophy or gained new knowledge or spiritual insight. In the depths of their being, their very nature has been changed. This is not a scattered redemption of select individuals, but part of God’s overriding action of restoring all of creation. We are new creatures participating in God’s new order.

February 18, 2013

This psalms service is based on a lessons and carols format that grows out of a thoroughly Reformed theology of Scripture. Third Church has developed an appetite for services where long portions of Scripture are woven with song, prayer, and silence. The development of Advent and Good Friday services that use this form has led to the planning of other types of services that use this pattern as well.

February 18, 2013

All: We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

People: We believe that God the Father is our Creator.

Reader 1: All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (John 1:3, NRSV)

May 4, 2012

When I first began preaching and my chosen text for a Sunday was a psalm, I would simply preach about the psalm at the prescribed section of the liturgy, seeing myself as the one who was called to explain and expound on the psalm as a piece of biblical text. Of course, liturgists and I would also include other elements in the litany that connected to the psalm’s language or meaning, and we would search for a great song of response to “seal the deal,” but the psalm itself remained intact as the preaching topic.

February 22, 2012

When the prayers of the worshiping community, the small group or family, and the individual are formed and guided by the psalms, the result is a balanced, God-centered, complete diet of prayer. People grow in grace and God hears what God is waiting to hear. Here are some examples and suggestions for including this diet in Sunday worship and throughout the week.

Note: All Scripture quotations in this article are from the NRSV.

March 1, 2009

Resources for Planning Worship

When you plan worship services year after year, it’s easy to fall into a rut and start repeating the same phrases and images. Keeping up with new resources can help you resist this temptation. Of course, no resource is a perfect fit for every church, but you can use the following resources to spark new ideas and adapt them to your own situation.

March 1, 2006

As the new chapel interns at Fuller Seminary gathered to begin planning worship at the beginning of the year, it became apparent that we had a problem. After we’d assembled our raw materials—piles of hymnals, sheaves of guitar fake sheets, and stacks of songbooks, there was little room left on the table for our pencils and notepads. The collection was just too cumbersome to work with.

December 1, 2005

This service is adapted from the forthcoming Volume 2 of Ten Service Plans for Contemporary Worship (2006, Faith Alive Christian Resources). The original Ten Service Plans (2002) is also published by Faith Alive. Available at www.faithaliveresources.org.

—ERB

December 1, 2005

All four gospels tell us that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament. No Old Testament book is quoted more frequently by Jesus than the Psalms. When we pray the psalms, we are praying the prayers of God’s people throughout the centuries. But, more importantly, we are praying the prayers that Jesus himself prayed.

December 1, 2005

This past year Unity Christian High School in Grandville, Michigan www.unitychristian.org/ about.htm#mission), planned two chapel services during Holy Week. The first chapel was a time of reflection on Luke 22-23. The Good Friday chapel included a moving juxtaposition of a Christmas carol with the reading of the Passion narrative (see box).

December 1, 2005

Last year for Good Friday, we planned a service that followed a modified “stations [or way] of the cross.” Each station was framed by the traditional ancient text Adoramus te.


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.

March 3, 2003

Our Ascension and Pentecost worship can sometimes use a healthy dose of spring tonic. A robust swig of solid Reformed doctrine will help to kick us out of our lazy, monochromatic approaches to these traditional festivals. Granted, a spoonful or two of Heidelberg or Westminster may be hard to swallow. But they will revitalize our worship planning by steering us to some rich biblical perspectives that we so easily ignore.

March 3, 2003

This service was built on earlier examples, especially the ordination service of Cindy Holtrop, who serves on the staff of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

As with the preceding service of installation, this service of ordination draws significantly on baptism imagery.

—ERB

Gathering

Prelude

God's Greeting and Call to Worship

March 3, 2003

We used this reading in place of the sermon for Pentecost Sunday at Beech-wood Presbyterian Church. It is written for three readers, but you could easily use more. We did feel that it was important for the same person (Reader 3) to read all the Scripture passages from the pulpit, thus setting God's Word apart from the rest of the narrative. We used the New Revised Standard Version of Scripture for the reading.

March 3, 2003

Though this worship service was prepared for a specific event, it was intentionally constructed with an eye for broader use. The theme is foundational to the Christian life; dying and rising. Therefore feel free to borrow from it, in both structure and detail, for a wide range of worship services—including baptism celebrations and commissioning services.