My wife, Kathy, has shaped her professional career as a family and life educator, and she returned from a weekend conference some years ago with the report of a study that I found fascinating. The study focused on the habits of married couples and attempted to analyze what made a difference in their intimacy.

The results were enthralling. Among all the variables in the habits of the couples studied, one ritual of intimacy stood out: Did the couple embrace and kiss at the door in the morning before going their separate ways to work, or did they not? And again, at the end of the workday, did they or did they not embrace and kiss upon seeing each other again?

That was the single variable that seemed to make a difference. Those couples that did indeed embrace and kiss seemed to have happier marriages, longer-lasting marriages, and more fulfilling marriages than those couples that did not embrace and kiss. The embrace and the kiss made all the difference!

That should not surprise Christian people who have the habit of weekly worship. Whatever we do repeatedly, over and over, has the power to shape us.

But the survey results did hold a final surprise. Yes, the embrace and kiss made all the difference. But here was the shocker: it didn't seem to matter whether or not they meant it! It didn't seem to matter whether or not in that moment the partners were fully "engaged" or even sincere! Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek seemed to be enough—enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship!

That should not surprise churchgoers either. Whatever we do over and over again has the power to shape us, to make us over into different persons—even if we're not totally "engaged" at every minute! Even when worship seems perfunctory, we could conclude, it works its work in us; it shapes us; it molds us; it refines us; it elevates us.

That's one reason why, amidst all the clamor for including the so-called "contemporary" in our worship, I, for one, want to be certain to continue to include generous proportions of the so-called "traditional." Not for nothing has this stuff fed the spirits of believers through the years! Sure—let's have worship that's lively, that's relevant, that speaks in all the accents and voices of our time: this marvelous, rich, diverse, multi-vocal culture in which most of us live these days in North America. But let's always remember that what we do, what we sing, what we pray has power. When worship is over at noon on Sunday, we're not the same person we were when we entered at eleven!

—Paul Bosch, College Chaplain of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and Interim Pastor at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kitchener, Ontario. Copyright 1997, Royal Canadian College of Organists. Reprinted with permission.

Rev. Bosch writes essays on worship issues on the website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada,


We experimented with a new feature in our last Advent issue (RW 45, September 1997), offering devotionals for home use to coordinate with the service plans for Advent and Christmas. Based on the response, we'll do it again! We initially printed four thousand copies of the HomeLink devotionals, then six thousand more, and we ran out. Altogether eighty-two churches across North America ordered copies.

It takes some lead time for us to offer it again. Look for more HomeLink devotionals to correlate with the next Advent/Christmas issue (RW 49) and also for the Lent/Easter issue (RW 50). We'd welcome responses from any of you who tried it. Phone 616-224-0785 or e-mail


Charleston, WV, March 7
Parkersburg, WV, March 9
Liberty, MO, March 14
Lebanon, MO, March 16
St. Louis, MO, March 21
Columbia, MO, March 23
Little Rock, AR, April 25
Fayetteville, AR, April 27
New Orleans, LA, May 4
Shreveport, LA, May 9
Wausau, Wl, September 19
Eden Prairie, MN, September 21
Des Moines, IA, September 26
Cedar Falls, IA, September 28
Lincoln, NE, October 3
Omaha, NE, October 5
Fargo, ND, October 10
Sioux Falls, SD, October 12
Wichita, KS, October 24
Shawnee Mission, KS, October 26
Edmond, OK, October 31
San Antonio, TX, November 9
Houston, TX, November 14

1998 Renew Your Worship! workshops with Robert Webber on blending contemporary and traditional worship. Webber has devoted several years to covering most of North America with these one-day leadership training workshops. Contact the Institute for Worship Studies, P.O. Box 894, Wheaton, IL 60189; 630-510-8905.

Valparaiso, IN, April 21-23, 1998
"Worship, Culture, and Catholicity: Remembering the Future." Addresses byjurgen Moltmann, M?rva Dawn, Eugene Brand, James Voelz, Dorothy Bass, and Walter Bouman. Fiftieth anniversary of the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University. Call 888-422-2777 or 219-464-5055.

Columbia, SC, April 24-25, 1998
Music in Worship Conference sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in America. Workshops for pastors, worship leaders, pianists, organists, and choral directors. Contact: Christian Education and Publications, 1852 Century Place, Suite 101, Atlanta GA 30345.

Presbyterian Association of Musicians Conferences

Montreat, NC, June 14-20; repeated June 21-27, 1997
"Worshiping God with All Your Heart—Reclaiming the Center."

Albuquerque, NM, July 5-10, 1997
"Worship in Turmoil: Can We Be Ail Things to All People?"

Westminster, PA, July 12-18, 199
"A New Creation."

For all three of the above conferences, contact: PAM National Office, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville KY 40202-1396; 502-569-5288; fax 502-569-5501; e-mail:

Grand Rapids, Ml, July 12-16
The annual conference of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, hosted this year by Calvin College, with Emily Brink and John Witvliet as local chairs. The theme is "The Transformation of Congregational Song—a Generation of Change" including lectures by Michael Hamilton (cultural history), Karen Westerfield Tucker (liturgical history), Nathan Mitchell (literary critique), Neal Plantinga (theological critique), and Horace Boyer (musicological critique). Come for a stimulating week of meeting with dozens of hymn composers and authors (including John Bell, and many others) and some of the most wonderful singing you'll ever experience! Scholarships are available for full-time students. Contact: The Hymn Society, Dr. Carl Daw, Executive Director, 1-800-THE HYMN.

Choristers Guild Seminars

Liberty MO, July 12-17, 1998
Grand Rapids, Ml, July 26-31, 1998
Annville, PA, August 6-8, 1998

Contact: Choristers Guild, 2834 West Kingsley Road, Garland, TX 75041 -2498; 972-271 -1521; fax 972-840-3113; e-mail

Reformed Worship 47 © March 1998 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.