A Liturgical Time Warp
Publishing is a strange thing. As I write this editorial it is the end of August. I have survived the heat wave that made its way across the United States and parts of Canada and I am enjoying the cooler temperatures. But when this issue is released it will be November. I can’t help wondering what the world will be like in three months. Will the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah be over? What will be going on in Iraq? How much will gasoline cost?
In addition to the time delay, the editorial staff at Reformed Worship also experiences a liturgical time warp—Lent and Easter in August?! Yet, as I read (and re-read) the many resources and articles in this issue, my heart is strangely warmed.
As the cover art suggests, the theme of this issue is certainly not lighthearted. Like Job, we are confronted with one of life’s hardest questions: Why?
Just as we sometimes run out of explanations for the whys of an insistent three-year-old, so we often lack answers for the big whys of life. Yet my heart is strangely warmed. That’s because underlying all the whys in this issue is the answer to the biggest why of all. Why would God send his Son from the safety and security of heaven into a world filled with poverty, injustice, HIV/AIDS, wars, persecution, and terrorism? Why would God send his Son to save people like us who deny him, insult him, and even kill him?
The answer to that big why is found in Scripture itself, most explicitly in the gospel message summarized in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
As I sit here in the comfort of my air-conditioned office, I cannot predict what life will bring tomorrow, let alone three months from now. Yet I know that the truth of the gospel is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. There is a God, and that God holds the world in his hands.
When this issue reaches you, the season of Advent will be drawing near—the season when we remember the first coming of Christ and anticipate the second. But even as we celebrate the birth of our Savior as the sweet child in the manger we cannot ignore the groaning whys of life nor the grace given us through Christ’s death on the cross. It is only by recognizing the need for redemption and God’s immeasurable gift that we can truly celebrate Christ’s birth. That is the gospel message we need to proclaim in our worship services and in our everyday living.
May your heart be warmed this Advent season and throughout Easter as you plan worship that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, makes room for lament to be honestly expressed and that allows the full message of the gospel to shine through the darkness.
On the inside front cover of every RW issue is the following statement: “The Reformed Worship staff welcomes letters, unsolicited manuscripts for articles, copies of liturgies, and other resources for worship. Send to email@example.com.” In issue 81 we began highlighting that statement because we are serious about wanting your submissions.
Reformed Worship is your magazine. The RW staff is here to help disseminate your ideas and services so that others can benefit from what worked in your church or your thoughts/study on a particular subject.
When I’ve encouraged people to submit I sometimes hear responses like, “We are just a small church,” “We are too contemporary/traditional,” “We are just a group of volunteers, we aren’t professionals,” or “No one will be interested in what we do . . .”
The truth is that the content of RW is drawn from people just like you. We have a diverse subscription base from a very broad Reformed spectrum and that diversity shows in the authorship of articles. Sharing the gifts that God has given our individual churches supports and encourages the body of Christ.
For writing guidelines and other submission information, please go to www.reformedworship.org. On the bottom of the left column is a section called “General Info.” Select “Writer’s Guidlines” from the list you’ll see there. You may also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to run an article or service idea by us first. If your article doesn’t show up in the next issue, that doesn’t mean it won’t get published. Unused submissions are filed for consideration in future issues.
Looking forward to hearing from you!