The sun threw its first gloriously warm beams of the spring season upon the singing birds, busy trucks on the downtown street, a neighborhood band rehearsing somewhere out of view. Children scampered eagerly over the playground across the street as we gathered from our homes, schools, and places of employment.
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In summertime, the energy level in churches often drops a bit. There are no major liturgical celebrations; families go on vacation; programs take a break. At this time of year, most of us wouldn’t think of an eight-week series on one of Paul’s prison letters as a way to breathe joyful life into a congregation, but that’s exactly what happened at one church.
Resources for Planning Worship
When you plan worship services year after year, it’s easy to fall into a rut and start repeating the same phrases and images. Keeping up with new resources can help you resist this temptation. Of course, no resource is a perfect fit for every church, but you can use the following resources to spark new ideas and adapt them to your own situation.
Every few years it happens, often around Easter. Questions about the life and ministry of Jesus are still so interesting to so many people that one, two, or even three of the major weekly newsmagazines in America will run cover stories about him. Few celebrities get their faces on the covers of such magazines all in the same week. Yet centuries after his death and resurrection, Jesus still generates a lot of press—not only for what he did or said but for the core question of who he is.
Human nature is such that we prefer the sweet to the sour, the easy to the hard, the light rather than the darkness. But for the light to seem bright, we first need to spend time in darkness. Similarly, we need Advent to comprehend the gift of Christmas. This series allows us to dwell in Advent, to notice that we’re living in between the two advents, to dare to look at the world’s darkness in order to better see the brightness of Christ’s light.
For a background on Vertical Habits see Betty Grit’s article on page 4. —JB
Connecting Vertical Habits in worship to vertical habits at home and in our everyday life brings us one step closer to making those habits our natural response. The easiest way to keep those habits fresh is to incorporate them into your family or personal devotions. Here are some suggestions for an individual, family, or small group devotional time using the psalms, as well as ideas for incorporating two psalms into a Vertical Habits worship service.