What is worship? Who is it for? Who can attend? In our North American culture often the answer in practice is that worship is for us churchgoers, but of course anyone who wants to can come and participate. Worship is for our enjoyment, amusement, or sanctification. We spend a lot of time and energy on planning our worship; we even have publications, denominational staff, and church staff whose sole purpose is to help with the planning and implementation of worship. And all of it is meaningless. Absolutely meaningless.
Unless . . .
The liturgical church year and the “programmatic” church year often feel most at odds in the weeks when we celebrate Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. In the midst of children’s and family ministries winding down for the season and church staff and worship leaders beginning to sigh with relief after the holy (and blessed) busyness of the Easter season, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of these important Sundays of the church year and the unique opportunities for teaching and worship they afford.
Finding a fresh way to share, experience, and delight in the Advent season and in the celebration of Christmas can prove challenging year after year. The story is well known to church members, and creating services that encourage them to enter the story with fresh, excited, and expectant eyes and hearts can be difficult.