Roger Van Harn is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.
Articles by this author:
From the Table to the Cross: A maundy Thursday service of drama and song based on Wangerin's Living the Passio
Cast and Props
Readers for 16 parts
Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Christians associate these words more readily with Jesus (Luke 4) than with Isaiah. Any sermon preached from Isaiah will surely proclaim Jesus as the anointed one, the Christ. But we should not rush too soon to Luke 4. We should first savor the revolutionary radical, wild announcement of the prophet, even though we will be tempted to tame it with reason and common sense.
Give or take a year, 1884 was the year Clarence Wexler founded the town that bears his name. He drifted west from Paterson, New Jersey, prospecting not for gold but for coal. Coal mines were as good as gold when they were close enough to the Boston/New York/Trenton furnaces to connect by rail, and far enough west to ensure cheap labor. So it was that Clarence Wexler settled in mid-Appalachia to begin his dig.
Second Sunday of Advent
This too-familiar Advent reading can be interpreted as a drama. The drama requires four voices, a band of exiles, and a speaking choir. Voices 1,2,3, and 4 are gathered in a heavenly council high and near the center of the chancel. The band of exiles is visible to one side on the lower level and appears defeated. The speaking choir is opposite the exiles.
SERVICE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY
Greetings, favored ones, the Lord is with you.
His name is Immanuel, God with us.
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!
Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
[PsH 340, PH 41-42, RL 195, TH 208]
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7
He was such a saint. A deacon for two terms and an elder for eight, Uncle Joe spent his life serving others. Sometimes he preached at the jail and at nursing homes, and no one questioned his right to do so. In fact, no one ever spoke ill of Joe. Most people just quietly appreciated the good he did and enjoyed his subtle sense of humor. If there were skeletons in his closet, no one ever found them.
The morning worship service is well under way. God's greeting and his people's praise have already been sounded. Sins have been confessed and forgiven. The order of worship calls for "Profession of Faith and Holy Baptism." We listen and watch expectantly.
Confession, in one form or another, has always been part of the Christian life and church. In the days before the Reformation, confession took place privately: first one went to the confessional and then to Mass. When the Reformers began to study the prayers of Scripture and of the early church, they began a radical reform of public prayer. The Reformed Church of Strasbourg developed two core prayers for the worship service: The General Confession and the Prayer of Intercession.