The days are getting longer; the sun is stronger; and we are beginning to make summer plans. For many of us those plans will include one or more Sundays away from our place of worship. We may be able to join another community in worship, which is a great opportunity to get outside our comfort zone and learn from our brothers and sisters from other denominations.
“Why did Christ come? Why was he conceived? Why was he born? Why was he crucified? Why did he rise again? Why is he now at the right hand of the Father? The answer to all these questions is, “in order that he might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that he might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created.”
—A.W. Tozer, Worship: the Missing Jewel
Post-game handshakes are a time-honored tradition. Little League baseball players, traveling soccer teams, and NCAA athletes never miss this ritual of sportsmanship. During the game they “fight,” engage in “battle,” “conquer,” or suffer “defeat.” But at the end of the day athletes are not at war. By a simple hand gesture, athletes declare that they are at peace.
Note: This article is slightly adapted from its first printing in The Banner(June 2010). Used by permission.
If you’ve ever recited the Athanasian Creed in a worship service, please send me an email to tell me about it!
In truth, I’ve never heard this creed used in church, and it’s not difficult to see why. Even a quick glance shows you that in addition to being much longer than either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, this creed is also sufficiently repetitive as to get tedious.
This prayer litany for leader and congregation was originally written for World AIDS Day, which takes place each December 1. However, this is not an issue that should be relegated to one particular day each year, but one that the Church prays about regularly, interceding for all those affected by this epidemic. We need to confess our own complacency and unwillingness to get involved, reach out, care for, and advocate on behalf of the 33.4 million people who live with HIV/AIDS.
This litany was used for the 2010 Pentecost worship service at our church. That service was held the same weekend as the local high school’s graduation ceremony, making the theme especially meaningful as graduates seek God’s guidance for the future.
Song: “Dwell in Me, O Blessed Spirit” PsH 427
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22, one of the greatest laments in the psalms, begins with this poignant cry of Christ on the cross. The Jews who had gathered at the foot of the cross (whether to mourn or to mock) would have heard these first few lines of the psalm and been led by their theological training to recall the psalm in its entirety. It is as if Jesus spoke the entire psalm as he hung in agony on the cross—proclaiming both his profound identification with a suffering world and the unlikely victory his suffering would produce.
It’s time we held a special service of prayer for the Middle Eastern Church.
Some of you may be taken aback by this. Is there such a thing as the “Middle Eastern Church?” Is there really a Christian presence in the Middle East? And if there is, what does it look like?