For the past three years our church has planned a hymn festival service to mark the closing of the choir season before the summer break. We are a medium-sized congregation (400 members) blessed with several instrumentalists. In addition to organ and piano, this year we were able to add two flutes, four violins, and five brass players.
What’s the best way to present the doctrine of the atonement at a conference for worship planners and leaders? One way would be to suggest Scripture texts and songs that focus on this teaching of Scripture. But Donald Hustad, Carl Stam, and Paul Detterman—all from Louisville, Kentucky—collaborated in a more challenging approach: preparing and walking participants through a worship service celebrating Christ’s atoning work for the sins of the world.
Christian worship is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says that Christ’s death and rising again must find its parallel in the life of believers: we must die to our old selves and rise to our new life in Christ (2 Tim. 2:11; Col. 3:1-5). He takes this one step further in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, explaining that our very bodies are like seeds that must die and return to the earth before we can experience the resurrection of our new spiritual body. Spiritual truths suddenly become living (and dying) realities.
This article is the fruit of my work with CITA (Christians in the Theatre Arts) and their grant project on Worship and Theatre funded by a Worship Renewal Grant through the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The substance of the article is the result of workshops offered at the 2001 CITA annual meeting in Oakland, California, and the 2003 Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thanks to all whose cumulative wisdom and insight contributed to this article. For information about CITA visit www.cita.org.
The pastor called the children to the front of church and asked them to sit on the front bench. He pulled out a long rope, then asked for two volunteers to play the parts of Adam and Eve and hold the end of the rope. Two little girls volunteered and happily shared holding the end of the rope. The pastor picked up the rope about two feet down and asked for a Noah. Immediately a three-year-old boy whose name is Noah stood up and, with a broad smile, held his part of the rope. Next the pastor called children to be Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Aaron. Then Joshua, Mrs.