Our Ascension and Pentecost worship can sometimes use a healthy dose of spring tonic. A robust swig of solid Reformed doctrine will help to kick us out of our lazy, monochromatic approaches to these traditional festivals. Granted, a spoonful or two of Heidelberg or Westminster may be hard to swallow. But they will revitalize our worship planning by steering us to some rich biblical perspectives that we so easily ignore.
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In the dying days of 1958 I was a “just from the boat off” eight-year-old immigrant p.k. in a small town in Ontario, Canada. That had its rigors. It also had its rewards. The prayers during worship were especially profitable. In fact, on one notable Sunday afternoon between my dad’s opening “Dear Lort, on dis Sunday afternoon we haf com togesser . . . and his closing “Ah-men,” I came out 35 cents richer.
Got time to browse through this editorial before heading straight for the service helps? Great! Let's take a quick tour of heaven together. Yup, heaven—not Sioux Center, not Vancouver—but heaven, the real thing. Will they let us in? Yes, but not to stay. Not yet. Not quite dressed for the occasion? Don't fret. The clothes we received when we took on Christ are whiter than we know. No wrinkles, and not a trace of starch either. So let's take a peek. See that elderly gent over there? That's our tour guide. Name's John.
Quiz time! Without digging out that old bulletin, what did your pastor preach on last Sunday morning?
Not a clue? You're in good company. You belong to the ninety-and-nine percent of the Coro's sheep who don't remember either.
Strange! We blow out all the stops celebrating Christmas—even though the Bible is mum on the time of year that Jesus began the humbling business of becoming our servant. And every year we fling open our church doors on Good Friday to celebrate how Jesus went through hell for us on the cross. But when Ascension Day, the crowning event of Jesus' ministry, comes around, Reformed worshipers increasingly keep the large oak doors firmly bolted.
Allow me to introduce myself. I'm the rookie theological editor at CRC Publications. Apart from sending our authors' occasional doctrinal slip-ups into cyberspace (and unwittingly appending my own), I also get to join the editorial staff of RW. That means I now have opportunity to watch these gifted people work their magic. I come at this after twenty years in the parish ministry. What credentials do I bring to my new role?
It's that time of year again. As always, Lent has flowed into Easter, and Ascension is still five weeks away. In our service planning, Easter Sunday so logically forms an integrated unit with Lent services, that we can easily be left wondering what to preach about on the Sunday mornings following Easter. To keep our thematic joints from showing through too much, we may need to apply some spring tonic to fortify the link between Easter and the five Sundays before Ascension Day.