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.
During the fall season many North American Christians attend two celebrations. One is a commemoration of the past—of the sixteenth-century Reformation of the Christian church. The other is a national celebration of thanksgiving—a day of praising God for the ways 1 which he has blessed us in the past and the present.
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.
The "hymn festival" is rapidly growing in popularity. With the explosion of new songs for worship, the rediscovery of old gems, as well as the joy of singing familiar favorites, the hymn festival provides an opportunity for congregations, choirs, and instruments to join in varied ways of singing hymns together. A hymn festival can celebrate the hymns of a season or of a given tradition, author, composer, or theme. Any good reason will do!
The Common Lectionary (see REFORMED WORSHIP 1) provides pastors with a guide for preaching on the Christ-centered events and teachings of the liturgical church year. Below are the Scripture passages that year A of the lectionary suggests for the Sundays from Easter to Pentecost. Also listed are hymns and service music that focus on the themes of the resurrection and the presence of Christ in our lives. Hymn page numbers are given for four hymnals:
The Hymnbook (HB)