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June 2, 2016

It was the first Tuesday in September, the first day of school, the day to bless the children at AnchorPoint Christian School. As the opening chapel service was coming to an end, parents and grandparents, board members, teachers, and staff surrounded the children and pronounced a litany of God’s promises over them.

February 4, 2016

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

November 10, 2015

Over the last few years, and particularly in the last few months, I have noticed an increase in the discussion about and desire for more times of confession in worship. There was a time when churches were discouraged from “airing their dirty laundry” during worship because confession wasn’t seeker friendly. The corporate act of confession also didn’t seem to fit with our individualistic ideas of sin and responsibility.

August 31, 2015

At key moments in their history, God’s Old Testament people renewed their covenant relationship with God. The following service is based on one of those moments as chronicled in Joshua 24. It invites the congregation not only to remember but also to rehearse and reenact the story as their own. Some congregations find such a rehearsal of God’s covenant particularly meaningful as they transition into a new year.

Gathering

Scripture: Joshua 24:1

August 31, 2015

While candlelight services often take us through the Christmas story with opportunities to sing beloved carols, this service is unique in that it focuses on our wilderness. So many of us relate to that dry place, that dark place, that lonely place, a place of despair, of yearning. The world around us is such a place, and it is to such a place that Christ came to be our Light. This service provides a beautiful and meaningful way to approach Christmas.
—JB

August 31, 2015

For centuries, John 1 has offered the church perhaps its favorite Advent text outside of the birth narratives of Luke. But have we ever stopped to think about what was going through the mind of the author when he chose the word logos (word) to describe Jesus? Perhaps we are so used to the strange choice that we don’t realize how inscrutable it sounded the first time Western ears heard it. But make no mistake: it was utterly clear and eminently meaningful to John’s original audience.

August 28, 2015

Every fall as we approach the Advent and Christmas seasons, I find myself searching for an entry point to these annual celebrations. What will “ignite” the planning process? Which idea, word, image, or song will come to mind and become the foundation of the eventual Advent chapel service at school or Christmas Eve celebration at church?

June 5, 2015

This Psalm 23 litany is designed to be read by people from three different generations—whether from the same family or from different families. It provides a low-stress way for people of all ages to participate in the worship service. This litany would also be a beautiful addition to a family reunion, funeral, or even a wedding.

The three parts are indicated like this:

Gen 1 = first generation person

Gen 2 = second generation person

February 10, 2015

For Pentecost 2012 at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia, we decided to visually depict the fire of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. We were blessed by the results!

First, using white copier paper from the recycle bin, the worship committee folded 150 paper cranes (but called them “doves” since they were for Pentecost). With a small hole punch we punched a hole near the top of each dove’s back.

February 10, 2015

This engaging and active children’s message is designed to be shared on Pentecost Sunday. Red feathers are used to symbolize the flames of Pentecost that hovered over Jesus’ friends as they gathered.

February 10, 2015

When a church closes, its remaining members grieve. But in Christ we are not without hope. The final service of Gallatin Gateway Community Christian Reformed Church in Bozeman, Montana, was a moving expression of remembrance, pain, and faith.

Gathering

Call to Worship: John 11:25-26

Hymn of Praise: “How Great Thou Art” LUYH 553, PH 467, PsH 483, TH 44, WR 51

The Lord’s Greeting

Passing of the Peace

February 10, 2015

The ballots had been counted, and we, the members of the McBain CRC, had voted to close our church after ninety-seven years of service. The decision came after a year of prayer, soul-searching, and seeking guidance from the denomination’s Home Missions office.

Three people were appointed to plan the closing service; we hardly knew where to begin. But we chose the theme “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness.”

February 10, 2015
When I was growing up, my mother purchased a book by Robert Short titled The Gospel According to Peanuts. It was unique for its time, because it looked at the gospel through the eyes of the cartoon characters created by Charles Schulz.

 

More recently Jeffery Archer wrote a book titled The Gospel According to Judas. Like Short, Archer sought to give insight to the gospel by looking at it in a new way: this time through the eyes of the disciple who betrayed Christ.

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)