Seasonal Resources

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree…

As we gather around our Christmas trees to celebrate Christmas, few of us think of Christmas Day as a beginning. For most families Christmas is the culmination, the climax, of weeks of planning, shopping, and anticipation. Not many are even aware that Christmas is but the first day of the twelve-day season referred to in the familiar song.

On a bitterly cold January 6, families from Christ Memorial Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, expectantly gathered in a circle around a small bonfire in the church parking lot. Children jockeyed for position, eager to have an unimpeded view of the huge pile of dead and discarded Christmas trees.

The choral music listed on these pages (all hymn anthems) is appropriate for use in worship during Advent, Christmas, or Epiphany. All the tunes appear in one or more of the three new Reformed hymnals: Rejoice in the Lord, Psalter Hymnal, and The Trinity Hymnal. All entries are SATB a cappella unless indicated otherwise.

Our choir has discovered that the hymn-anthem is an effective way of introducing new songs to the congregation. We follow a process similar to the following:

Epiphany season begins twelve days after Christmas, on January 6, and continues until the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In 1988 the season covers six Sundays.The Sunday lessons during this season center upon events and readings from the ministry of Jesus, all of them concentrating on the seasonal theme: God, in Jesus Christ, personally appeared (Greek: epiphaneia) on earth, revealing himself to us directly rather than through any chosen messenger.

Below we have printed the outline of an Epiphany service including the prayers, songs, and litanies that were repeated in the bulletin each week during the Epiphany season. The liturgy, prepared by Leonard Vander Zee, pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been used by that congregation for the past two years. The song was composed by a member of the Church of the Servant (CRC), Grand Rapids, Michigan, for use in their Epiphany liturgy.

In most churches September is the start of a new church school year. The children of the church will again gather every Sunday morning to sing praise and to learn about God and his people. Adults will meet to study God's Word and to discover new ways of living their faith. Even in churches that hold church school all year long, September is often a time of beginnings—new classes, new students, new teachers.

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.

Some preachers are tempted to do as little "doctrinal" preaching as possible. After all, people expect preachers to be relevant, to relate the gospel to the here and now. How does a preacher do that with an old document filled with intellectual statements about faith that seemingly have very little to do with life?

Our Worship Begins(1)

Words of Welcome

*Processional: Psalm 24(2)

*Greetings:
Pastor: People of God, receive the greeting from our God, the King of glory: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
People: Amen!
The people greet each other.

*Hymn: Rejoice, the Lord Is King

We Hear the Word of the Lord

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1—11

Word for the Children