In New York City I saw a Japanese garden made up of nothing but gravel and a solitary rock. The rock was placed off-center, the ground around it clean of everything, and the gravel raked painstakingly. That garden is a lesson in “less is more.”
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According to the church calendar, the church year ends on Christ the King Sunday. This year that Sunday falls just before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day. Although Ascension Day would seem the most appropriate place in the church year to celebrate the reign of Christ, the Revised Common Lectionary does a good job of helping us prepare for this end-of-the-year celebration by suggesting lessons from the epistle to the Hebrews for the concluding Sundays of Year B.
How does your pastor choose next Sunday's Scripture lesson? Is he doing a series on the fruits of the Spirit? Following the Heidelberg Catechism? Preaching his way through a gospel or an epistle? The approaches that pastors in Reformed and Presbyterian churches take to planning what they will preach on from Sunday to Sunday are almost as varied as the people in the congregations they serve.
Considering the Lectionary
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Supplemental Liturgical Resource 7. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992. 428 pages. $14.95.
The Presbyterian Church hopes to have a new common service book ready by 1993. Meanwhile, seven "trial" books have been published since 1980 in the Supplemental Liturgical Resource series that have tested material to be included in the new service book.
If your holiday liturgy is a string of special numbers and exciting extras, your congregation may be missing the true communion of Christmas.
My first congregation was a small and struggling Reformed Church in a sagging, central-Jersey factory town. Our average attendance was no more than fifty, and we didn't have a choir because we couldn't afford a choir director. But in spite of our humble circumstances, the five Christmases I worshiped there were the best Christmases of my life.
Robin A. Leaver, James H. Litton, and Carlton R. Young, editors. Carol Stream, Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, 1985, 310 pp., $18.50.