This service was prepared as a pastoral response to a series of deaths, illnesses, and other traumatic events suffered by our congregation over a short period of time. The lights of the sanctuary were dimmed. A table was set up in front of the pulpit and draped with purple and black cloth. The pulpit Bible served as centerpiece, surrounded by approximately fifty (unlit) votive candles in clear glass containers. A cross was set up in a front corner of the sanctuary with a small table draped in purple in front of it. A Christ candle was lit on this table.
The idea for this service came from a similar one planned by InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Each year the group organizes a service for graduating students called “Ordination to Daily Work,” to affirm to these students that their training for their profession and vocation, even if not explicitly Christian, is still holy work dedicated to God.
When words fail us, whether in times of joy or sorrow, it is often the words penned by another that help us give voice to our soul’s prayer. Maybe the written prayer expresses our thoughts so profoundly we use the same text, or maybe it helps free our own tongue to form a new prayer. But where do we find those prayers? There are many great prayer books, but another readily accessible source is the Internet. Many good sites provide prayers and other worship resources free for use in congregational worship.
Wedding rituals I have witnessed firsthand include the lighting of a unity candle, the rose ceremony, communion, and foot washing. But ever since I saw the movie Fiddler on the Roof years ago, I have been particularly fascinated by the Jewish wedding practice of drinking wine and breaking the glass under the couple’s feet. Seven wedding blessings (Sheva Brachot; www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/970131/tradsb.html) spoken over the cup of wine celebrate the themes of creation and joy.
How should a worship leader respond to the individual who wants to offer a gift of music or some other performing art in a worship service? What standard do we use to determine if a believer is gifted in the area of interest? How should a worship leader decide if, in fact, including particular individuals in certain roles is appropriate in corporate worship? Are there biblical principles that can help worship leaders make such decisions?