Our children’s ministry team wanted to provide an opportunity for the children of the church to offer their gifts in worship in a visible way. Elizabeth Henstock, a member of the team, developed the concept of creating a collaborative piece for Advent using the fourteenth-century fresco Adoration of the Magi by Italian artist Giotto. The children were told and shown the story of how the magi brought gifts to Jesus. They enthusiastically agreed to work together on a large mosaic as their way of also bringing a gift to Jesus.
North American communities are dotted with evidence that we are no longer primarily a biracial culture. People from other nations can be found in apartment buildings, schools, grocery stores, malls, and recreational venues. But too few of them are entering their local churches. Because culture is a strong component of any group’s sense of cohesiveness and community, most churches are primarily monocultural.
The book of Acts, however, demonstrates that multicultural fellowship is both possible and rewarding!
This service was planned for a joint service of several congregations in Denver, Colorado; it was patterned after an earlier service held at the Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The title comes from the sermon preached at both services by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., president-elect of Calvin Theological Seminary, who was also part of the planning team along with John D. Witvliet and Emily R. Brink.
The following commissioning service is intended for those who lead music in worship, including choir directors and members, song leaders, and instrumentalists. Consider adapting it as a service of installation for someone in a staff leadership position, such as minister of music. Use the service following the proclamation of the Word, at the time of the offering, or in association with a particular music ministry in the service.
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Many of us church “insiders” know people outside the church who are similar to John, Carol, and Nathan. They range from being unchurched to antichurch or underchurched. Some are looking to delve into the mystery that is life, or they’re searching for “values”; some want guidance for building a just society; others are trying to fill an unnamed void unfilled by stock portfolios, hobbies, and relationships. Such people are seekers—those toward whom many churches are striving mightily to be friendly.
It is 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning. About forty teenagers have assembled in the choir rehearsal room at Islington United Church in west Toronto. Most of them look sleepy; many look as though they just stepped out of the shower. But they’re here, and as they warm up their voices and begin to sing, I’m reminded of newborn butterflies drying their wings and getting ready for flight. A parent checks attendance and solves last-minute problems.
We Gather as God’s People
“Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” arr. Martha Lynn Thompson; senior bell choir
“Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us” VU 198
The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
During the last year I have been leading workshops and retreats on hospitality for many churches. Congregations who want to be hospitable can benefit from seeing their building, their practices, and their worship services through the eyes of a visitor.
I developed the following service for Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Langley, British Columbia, a congregation committed to hospitality and to welcoming neighbors to their faith community.
I wrote this service for a couple I married several years ago. Recently a colleague found it useful for a wedding he did, and now friends of that couple have asked for copies, so perhaps others will find this helpful too.
Declaration of Intent
I. The Way of Creation/Re-creation
The First Lesson: Genesis 2:18-25
Affirmation of the Families