How to...

Since music is such an integral part of worship, selecting a hymnal that will meet a congregation’s needs is an awesome responsibility. But it doesn’t have to become a nightmare.

Following the steps of the process described below can help a committee choose a hymnal that will serve its congregation well for years to come.

It started innocently enough with the Advent wreath. Each Sunday during Advent an individual or a family from our congregation came forward after the greeting to read a

passage of Scripture and to light a candle. Because of space constraints, our congregation does not have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, so at the end of the fourth Sunday we lit the Christ candle, a big pillar candle, and sang a Christmas hymn right before the benediction.

Why commission a work of art?

The purpose of liturgical art is to point beyond itself, to deepen one’s understanding and worship of God. A congregation might commission a work of art

Every Thursday afternoon just before 4:30, students, faculty, staff, and community people start moving toward the chapel at Calvin Theological Seminary for a time of prayer together. These contemplative services in the manner of the Community of Taizé, planned and led by students, have become for many an important mid-week Sabbath rest that provides, as one person said, a welcome time of “beauty in simplicity.”

Consider this scenario: All eyes are glued to the screen as the hero Indiana Jones attempts to save his dying father. This mission requires him to somehow cross what seems like an insurmountable chasm. He stands poised at the edge of the precipice overlooking the bottomless chasm. In his hands he clutches a scroll with instructions that suggest he simply “step out in faith.” That doesn’t make sense. As the audience waits in tense anticipation, the soundtrack builds to a crescendo and then falls quiet.

The previous issue of Reformed Worship (57) included an article describing our church’s dramatic production on the life of Jesus based on Michael Card’s The Life. In this article I’d like to make suggestions for others who want to take the journey from the page to the stage.

1. Start with excellent material.

Sunday morning has arrived. The children are dressed in clean clothes. Once seated in the pew, mom and dad breathe a sigh of relief and worship begins. Or does it? In our attempts to keep the kids quiet, most parents pass out the candy and become adept at the meaningful glance. The result? Kids become skilled not at worship but at daydreaming the hour away. So even though the family can make it through a service of worship, they may not be worshiping God together.