Harry Boonstra (email@example.com) is former theological editor of RW and emeritus theological librarian of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Articles by this author:
- From the Vault
A few months ago a package arrived in the mail from a friend of RW. Inside was a full set of Liturgy and Music in Reformed Worship newsletters. This RW precursor set the trajectory for providing worship leaders and committees with practical assistance in planning, structuring, and conducting congregational worship in the Reformed tradition. Unlike back issues of Reformed Worship, the jewels in these newsletters are not available online, so we decided to share a few of them with you.
My most distant memory of prayer in worship goes back to the “long prayer” in the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. Long it was, as the dominee covered our personal and communal sins; the needs of God’s kingdom and the Dutch kingdom as well as the rest of the world; the suffering of Sister Jacoba, who had pain in her left kidney; the cause of missions in Suriname; and an outline of the sermon.
Q. The Presbyterian Hymns, Psalms & Spiritual Songs contains "My Country Tis of Thee" and other patriotic songs, but the Christian Reformed Psalter Hymnal does not. Is that failure caused by the fact that the Christian Reformed Church was at one time a Dutch immigrant church?
By some accounts, the worship situation in churches today has reached an all-time low— "the worst of times." Others disagree. They think that the church has broken out of encrusted habits and is yielding to the working of the Spirit. We are finally worshiping "as God wants us to"—"the best of times."
Who's right? Although there's no easy answer to that question, dipping into a few recent articles and books and mixing in a bit of commentary and history may help us evaluate our liturgical situation.
Our congregation was in need of healing. During the span of a year or less many members of the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church had experienced serious illness, death, and other tragedies. The elders responded to these needs by calling several mid-week prayer services, which were helpful to those who attended. However, members also desired to deal with such needs in the context of congregational worship. The following service was planned and conducted in response to that need.
Explanation of the Service (1)
Leading in Worship by Terry L. Johnson. Oak Ridge, TN: The Covenant Foundation, 1996.184 pp.
Worship in Spirit and Truth by John Frame. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1996.171 pp.
Here are two books by conservative Presbyterians who do not at all agree on how Presbyterians (and other Christians) ought to worship.
Johnson's book consists of two main sections—an essay on Reformed worship and a collection of liturgical resources. We'll look at the second part first.
Once more in this issue, we have selected (some Q&A's from the final section of Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture, a report to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) synod in June 1997. The purpose of this study is to equip church leaders with perspectives and insights that will help them make decisions about worship—decisions that are biblically and theologically informed as well as culturally discerning.
For this issue the questions and answers for Q&A come from the report "Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture" by the worship committee of the Christian Reformed Church. Although the report, which is to , be presented at Synod 1997, is addressed in the first place to CRC congregations, churches from other denominations will have the same or similar questions. And, we trust, will benefit from the answers.
Q. Is there biblical support for the extravagant blood image in Andre Crouch's "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power?"
A. I suppose that you are not questioning the "blood theology" of the hymn—that is the biblical teaching that we are saved by the suffering and death of Christ. Our being saved by the blood of Christ is a pervasive scriptural doctrine and is reflected in many hymns.