Seasonal Liturgy Idea Was Helptul
We have used this magazine for some years now, and the blocks of services, e.g., Lent & Easter, or Advent, have been used extensively.
Not having a pastor of our own has made this manual invaluable to us. We are able to plan blocks of services two months ahead. By providing our guest ministers with the basic services and themes well in advance, we have not had a sermon plunked in a service without each relating to the other. The cooperation from our guest ministers has been marvelous.
This year, for our Lent and Easter Services, we took a look at "A Seasonal Liturgy for Lent" (RW30, p. 24), and decided on a basic format for our services during Lent; each week we adapted that format only as needed (e.g., Baptism, Lord's Supper, and Palm Sunday). This way, the services as a block were different than usual, but gave a sense of familiarity at the same time. We used the Common Lectionary as the source for Scripture lessons and suggested the New Testament passage(s) to our guest minister(s) as a basis for their message. We have found that an early start, with much prayer and careful planning, has resulted in more unified services.
Your magazine provides a wonderful way for congregations to share their talents and hard work. May God continue to bless each one of you who make this magazine available to us.
Lent & Easter Planning Committee
Grace Christian Reformed Church
A Concern about Inclusivity
My purpose for writing to you is two-fold. First, I am writing to thank you and encourage you in the wonderful work that you are doing in providing an excellent resource for planning and enriching our worship services. It is a resource I greatly appreciate and often use. In a recent service we used material from the September, 1994 issue. The material was entitled "A Teaching Service: Around the Church Year in an Hour" by Harry Boonstra. This service was a blessing to many in our fellowship.
However, there was one believer in our fellowship who was unintentionally offended by this service and that is the second purpose of this letter. This incident has enlightened us and encouraged us to new areas of growth. We thought it would be useful to you to know of this should you decide to reuse this material.
The offended believer was a Jewish Christian, and although most of the service was a blessing to her, the following portion of the Epiphany meditation was read by a reader from the congregation in such a way as to cause a misinterpretation of its meaning: "What's new here? Well, the Jews liked to talk about our kind of people, our temple, our synagogue, our God. They shunned other people as outsiders. . . . That's what Epiphany is all about. God's story, Jesus; light is coming—not just for Hebrews, not just for insiders, but for all people. And lucky for us. Very few of us are of Jewish blood. ..." It was not our intent to make any derogatory remark about Jewish people, and we believe it was not the intent of the writer either; however, this possibility remained undetected until the actual service. From this incident we have learned that we need to be more conscious of the feelings and perspective of Hebrew Christians in order to promote a greater oneness of believers in our fellowship.
We hope that the information we have shared with you will be useful to you as you continue in your service to God and his kingdom.
Joanne Kamps, Worship Coordinator
Liked RW Reformation Service
I am writing to thank you for the wonderful liturgy you wrote and published in the June, 1994, issue, which we used as the basis for our Reformation Sunday evening joint worship service of our CRC and RCA congregations. I thought you might also enjoy seeing how we "brought it up to date" by adding the end piece on the contemporary singing called "praise and worship" songs, so I have enclosed a copy of our material as we read it from the pulpit Sunday night. I trust that you would agree that including this was consistent with the thrust of your own writing.
The congregations expressed so much appreciation for the service, and the singing by the people in the service was so moving, that I can assure you this was a meaningful time for many, many people in our churches. I thought you might like to hear that, and be encouraged to continue with you good work.
Mark A. Davies
Lake Worth, Florida
Editor's note: Thanks to several of you for taking the time to send letters, bulletins, adapted scripts, and even tapes of your use of the Reformation service we provided in RW 32. Sorry we couldn't supply the hats, as a couple of you requested!