Viewpoint

What does spiritual formation have to do with worship? Everything. Our dialog with God in worship moves us through the same formation, conformation, and transformation process as Richard Foster suggests takes place in spiritual formation. As you read the following article, consider how your worship supports spiritual formation. Brainstorm with your worship committee or another group about how your worship can better lead congregants through the process of formation, conformation, and transformation. —JB

Word, Prayer, Meal

Where Pastoral Care Begins

It’s about halfway through the Sunday morning service, and Pastor Tim is standing at the communion table holding a loaf of bread in his hands. He is about to bless the bread, break it, and share it with God’s people. He is feeding the flock of God.

Earlier in the service he fed the congregation by reading and expounding on God’s Word. After that he invited them into prayer for the church and the world. Word, prayer, and meal—these are food for the flock, means of grace. And they are the place where pastoral care begins.

Monday Morning

Reflections on Every-Sunday Communion

Few seem to realize that one of John Calvin’s major disputes during his time in Geneva was his advocacy of celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. He was adamant, but the consistory—and the city council, who governed church-related matters—wouldn’t agree. Calvin was even thrown out of Geneva for a time—he went to Strasbourg, France—but he came back. He continued to advocate for communion every Sunday but was still resisted.

In this article Matteuci argues that Christian worship ought not to reflect some key aspects of North American culture. Matteucci reminds us that, regardless of our geographical location, the church is called to be in the world but not of it.

—JB

American culture is driven and saturated by mass media. Opinion polls and election results reveal a culture deeply divided over political and moral issues, but this divide is rarely found in news reports, movies, or television programs aired on American media outlets.

In RW 80 the column “Songs for the Season” featured the song “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” which has been changed in some hymnals to “Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer.” The fact that RW on this occasion did not change the text prompted Bert Polman to write this challenging and informative essay.

A Taste of Reality

Celebrate World Communion Every Sunday

Dateline Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1936. An upscale Presbyterian congregation in the Shadyside neighborhood, seeking a new way to promote world mission, births the notion of a Worldwide Communion Sunday, to be celebrated on the first Sunday of October. A plaque in the chancel floor of Shadyside Presbyterian marks the spot to this day. Within four years of its inception, the Department of Evangelism of the old Federal Council of Churches had heard about the idea. Sixty years later, a casual Google search of “World Communion Sunday” threatens “about 23,700” hits.

Northern hemisphere visitors to New Zealand at Christmas and Easter frequently comment on how topsy-turvy it all feels down here. We sing, in the words of Shirley Murray, one of this country’s best known hymn writers, of an “upside-down Christmas” in which the traditional white Christmas of northern climes gives way to long summer days at the beach. And at Easter, the fresh scents and colors of the northern hemisphere spring give way to the muted colors and cooler temperatures of a southern hemisphere autumn.

Why should the devil have all the good music? This pithy question is often used to justify the introduction of “secular” musical styles into the church service. Variously attributed to Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Salvation Army founder William Booth, the saying cannot be documented in any of their writings. Indeed, whatever Booth’s views might have been, the question most certainly does not reflect the ideas or practices of Luther and Wesley.