Do you remember learning how to swing or teaching a child how to? I vividly recall the repeated directions “in and out, in and out” spoken in a sing-songy voice to encourage the proper pumping action of the legs. But once the pattern was internalized, oh, the heights that could be achieved! And we are never too old to swing.
If you listen you can hear the “in and out” refrain throughout this issue. We aren’t trying to teach folks how to swing, but we do want you and the church to soar—spiritually, that is. To do that we need the Holy Spirit to work in and out. As we are reminded in the article, “Pentecost: The Absurdly Unified” by Chris Walker, in worship we need to attend to the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in us as individuals, among us as a community, but also outside of us in how we live out our faith. In this issue, then, you will find articles and resources that highlight the work of the Holy Spirit within us, such as through the songs for the season, “Holy Spirit, Keep the Fire Burning in Us!” You will also find articles and resources that prompt us to join in the restorative work that the Holy Spirit is doing in the world and some that highlight both the inward and outward working of the Spirit, such as the worship series “Joining the Spirit’s Work.” Just as the joy of swinging can only be experienced when the legs go in and out, so our worship ought to give expression to both the inward and outward working of the Holy Spirit to help God’s people to soar spiritually.
But we cannot jump over Ascension Day. Our worship is possible because Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father and has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. It is the Holy Spirit who brings our prayers and praises to Christ, who perfects them and intercedes on our behalf with God the Father. It is the risen and ascended Christ who gives us hope for our own resurrection. It is the ascended Christ who calls us to join in the Spirit’s work. So once again we encourage churches not to neglect Ascension Day.
Finally, both Ascension Day and Pentecost remind us that we as Christ’s followers are one. We have much to learn from one another. In this issue we are privileged to learn from the Baptist, Methodist, and Waldensian churches of Italy, who express that unity each week by sharing the same worship material, which arises from the shared understanding of worship they worked to articulate together. You can find a portion of that unifying work in the article “How Shall We Worship?” and the “Ascension and Pentecost Services from Italy.”
As always, our prayer remains that the Holy Spirit may use this issue of Reformed Worship to bless the church. May the Spirit be present in your planning, leading, and living.