It’s hard to have a relationship with ants. Try as you might, they’re just not very good listeners, and they seem to pay little mind to humans. Granted, ants are marvelous creatures with amazing strength and a way of communicating and working together for the good of all that serves as an object lesson for humans. But since they can’t communicate with us, there is no relationship.
That’s what I was thinking as I contemplated this Ascension/Pentecost issue. We often view God as our friend, but Scripture teaches us that the Triune God is a Holy Other, awesome in the true meaning of the word, someone to be revered, and even feared. Our worship doesn’t often convey that transcendent being. Nevertheless, God is the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth; God holds the world in his hands, God is sovereign over all. We are mere mortals; ant-like, really.
So what does it take for us mortals to communicate with the one-greater-than-our-greatest-imagination? It took nothing less than a person of the Trinity, God’s Son, to become like us, to speak our language, to teach us using images and stories from our world, to feel pain and hunger, sorrow and joy. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
The amazing thing is that when Christ returned to heaven he didn’t lay aside his humanity. He resides at God’s right hand in human form, the firstfruits of the resurrection. And Christ has not forgotten about pain and hunger, sorrow and joy. He understands and he speaks to God on our behalf.
Christ knew, though, that his physical absence would create a vacuum, so he sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and intercessor. The Holy Spirit serves as the “mail carrier” between us and Christ; bringing our prayers to him and bringing Christ’s messages back to us.
I am writing this editorial during the first week of Advent, and I’m very conscious of the fact that we need to tell the whole story. The baby Jesus in the manger isn’t enough; we need the resurrected and ascended Christ; we need the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our worship. You’ll run across these themes in this issue of Reformed Worship. We encourage you to help your congregation understand the full breadth and depth of the gospel by helping them observe Ascension and Pentecost. Don’t skip over these vital parts of the story. Ignoring these events can create a communication gap in our relationship with God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Speaking of relationships, Reformed Worship is saying a goodbye of sorts to our managing editor, Judy Hardy. Judy began serving as a copyeditor for RW in 1994 with issue #34; she became the managing editor in 2003 with issue #68. It is a sort-of-goodbye because Judy will be transitioning to the position of associate editor for The Banner, the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Since Reformed Worship and The Banner are published by the same organization, we will still see Judy on a daily basis, but we’ll miss her great managerial skills and knowledge. Thank you, Judy, for all that you did in helping to publish Reformed Worship, and God bless you in your new position!
Goodbye and Hello
For eighteen years I’ve had the privilege of being part of the RW team. Along the way I’ve learned so much from you, our readers. I’ve witnessed the passion and joy with which you approach the task of leading people like me—the worshipers who gather each Sunday to come before God’s presence—to praise and lament, to confess and experience forgiveness, to be nourished and comforted.
As I leave to take on other editorial responsibilities at Faith Alive, RW staffer Sandy Swartzentruber takes on the role of managing editor. Sandy has been part of our team since RW 82, so RW is in good hands.
My thanks go out to each one of you who designs banners, choreographs movement, crafts sermons and litanies, or leads music. Thanks for sharing your best ideas with RW!