I hate, I despise your festivals,
      and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
      I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
      I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
      I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,

Words of Life

Cultivating the Heart to Hear

As we walk through a spiritual desert, attending to God’s voice is the surest way to recover our own. Our prayers to God are important; but his words to us are even more so. When we practice the disciplines of solitude, meditation, and silence, we grow in our ability to hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

(from Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer)

The Lord's Supper on Good Friday: YES

It had been nine months since I had arrived at Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, and I was still walking that fine line between “that’s how we’ve always done it” and “that sounds like a great idea.” This was to be the first time I would travel the Lenten journey with my new congregation, and I was looking forward to celebrating with them that capstone of our faith: Easter morning.

Churches introduce the Lord’s Supper in their liturgies in various ways. Some use a recommended form, while others write their own. The latter might explore a topic such as the presence of Jesus at communion, or communion and children. Here, I’d like to consider another aspect of the Lord’s Supper: how it addresses the burdens we carry when we come to the table.

This lecture was presented by Rev. Kathy Smith at the January 2015 Calvin Symposium on Worship at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as part of a plenary session titled “Public Worship and the Many Layers of Gospel-Shaped Reconciliation.”

How can worship lead us to a deeper unity in Christ in spite of our differences, and how can it be a means of healing and hope?

The problem we humans have, as one of my seminary professors put it, is that people forget. Even in a world where death is all over the news, where gravediggers are always employed, where Ebola and war and famine wreak havoc, people forget about death. We don’t passively forget—that is not possible. But we actively turn our minds away from our own deaths, even if we cannot avoid death in the world around us. We lobotomize the part of our brain that considers the fact that except Christ comes again, all of us will die.

As I write this article the 2014 Winter Olympics have just ended, and the word excellence easily comes to mind. The athletes displayed brilliant excellence on the short track, the half pipe, the slope, and many other venues. After years of intense training with the world’s greatest coaches, these young men and women dazzled us with feats of athleticism that made shockingly difficult maneuvers look easy.