In a time when Christians are looking for new ways of making worship more concrete and meaningful, much attention has been given to the customs of the past. One of the traditions some Christians have begun practicing is the Seder meal, an important ceremony in the Jewish Passover celebration. On these pages, Steve Schlissel, pastor of Messiah's Congregation (CRC) in Brooklyn, New York, gives his perspectives on Christians using the Seder meal. Rev. Schlissel is a Jewish Christian.
We are fond of quoting Psalm 150. All those instruments —trumpet, harp and lyre, flute and strings, even tambourine and cymbals—paint a sound-picture of orchestral dimensions in Old Testament worship.
The Reformed Church in America has produced worship bulletins for every Sunday and special occasions in 1988. The bulletins, which follow the Church Year and the Common Lectionary, feature full-color illustrations drawn from the liturgical themes and Scripture passages.
Bulletins can be ordered quarterly in multiples of 100. For information and orders contact:
RCA Distribution Center Phones: (800) 828-8013 (US)
3000 Ivanrest SW (800) 331-2546 (MI)
Grandville, MI 49418 (616) 538-3470 (CAN)
Edited by G. W. Davies. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986, 544 pp. $29.95.
Because this dictionary of liturgy and worship is published by Westminster Press, one might expect it to have a Presbyterian orientation (which would hardly account for its 544 double-columned pages). However, for a more accurate perception of the tenor of the book, one would do better to associate Westminster with the abbey and the Anglican church, for it is out of that basic context that a large number of the articles are written.
Thank you for the copy of Issue 3 of RW you sent me recently, with its use of my hymn "For Your Gift of God the Spirit" as the Hymn of the Month.
I should like to correct the data on the writing of that hymn.
Jill Knuth. San Jose, Calif.: Resource Publications, Inc., 1986, 198 pages, $9.95.
Banners Without Words will, I'm afraid, be used as a "swipe file." Because banners are difficult to design and construct, many people will be tempted to save time and energy by using one of Knuth's ready-made designs.
The season of Lent, which begins in 1988 on February 17, is a period of forty days extending from Ash Wednesday through the Saturday before Easter. Sundays are not considered part of Lent as such, although the Lenten themes often do carry over into Sunday worship.
The following liturgy was submitted by Rev. Herman Praamsma, pastor of the Fellowship CRC ofRexdale, Ontario. The liturgy was adapted by Dr. Bert Polman from a form prepared by the Liturgical Committee of the Christian Reformed Church for use during an Easter Service; this liturgy can be used for all Sundays in Eastertide. The season of the church year called Eastertide lasts fifty days and includes Ascension, the day when we rejoice in the reign of Christ at God's right hand.
*If you are able, please stand
Today is the first day of a very special season," I told a first grade class at Seymour Christian School. "For the next few weeks we will be joining many other Christians around the world in celebrating the season called…?"
"SPRING!" several students shouted, obviously happy at the thought.
"No, not spring," I smiled. "Everybody is happy it's springtime, of course, but we Christians have a special season to celebrate just now. I'll give you a hint—it ends with Easter."
The hymn anthems listed on this page are appropriate for use during Lent and Easter. All of the tunes and texts appear in one or more of the three new Reformed hymnals: Rejoice in the Lord, the Psalter Hymnal, and the Trinity Hymnal.
Choirs will discover that the hymn anthem is an effective way of familiarizing both themselves and the congregation with some of the hymns in these new hymnals. A stanza from a choral arrangement can serve well as an alternate stanza for choir in congregational singing.
If you've ever taken a careful look at the churches in your area, you've probably noticed that some of the newer buildings don't conform to our old stereotypes of what a church should look like. And if you've recently participated in a church building or remodeling project, you probably have a good grasp of the reasons behind these new trends in church architecture. Church building isn't as predictable as it used to be.
In many of our churches Advent is celebrated with numerous signs and symbols. Special banners, Advent wreaths, and Chrismon trees enrich our worship and give deeper meaning to our celebration. But, aside from palm branches on Palm Sunday and perhaps a few candles on Good Friday, few churches make similar use of symbols during Lent.
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a church named Rivervale met to conduct worship every Sunday in a very nice sanctuary. Always their service followed a pleasant style, tastefully created by a liturgically sensitive Committee on Music and Worship. Rivervale members were of one mind in claiming that at their church everything was done in the best possible order. When the event I am about to relate took place, both Rivervale pastors were absent.
On Sunday, August 17, 1642, Dominie Johannes Megapolensis Jr. preached his first sermon to about one hundred people in a grain warehouse in Rensselaerwyck, a Dutch settlement across the Hudson River from the present site of Albany, New York. That historic worship service gave birth to the First Reformed Church in Albany, the second oldest congregation in the Reformed Church in America.
Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
Christopher Wordsworth, the author of this text, may not be as well known today as his famous uncle, William. But during his lifetime (1807-85) Christopher distinguished himself as a scholar, professor, pastor, and eventually a bishop in the church of England.
Bishop Wordsworth included this hymn in his Holy Year: or Hymns for Sundays, Holidays, and Other Occasions Throughout the Year, with the following heading:
If you're like most choir directors, you occasionally have problems filling your choir's repertoire for Easter. Perhaps you've noticed the sameness and even shallowness of some Easter hymns and anthems and have longed Jsii; for music similar to Christmas carols—music which is simple and appealing and which can readily involve large numbers of people.
Easter Sunrise services have been in vogue for many years, but an Easter Vigil is largely unknown among Reformed and Presbyterian churches. A "vigil" suggests waiting—an alert, expectant watching when one is normally asleep (Matt. 24:36-25:13). During a vigil one is full of anticipation and hope.
Grace Episcopal Church is very quiet when I enter at 9:20. In fact, even though the service is to start at 9:30, I am the only person in the sanctuary. A few minutes later several more people show, but it turns out the big service will be in the evening. (After the soup supper. Ah! even Episcopalians must be urged with food. But during Lent?)
When I discover that some Catholic or Lutheran friends are fasting during Lent, I feel a stab of guilt. My conscience nudges me with the insistent question, "Why don't I, a Reformed Christian, also fast?" Further thought doesn't make the question disappear; it persists. Why don't I, as an act of repentance or humility, deny myself some ordinary good in order to better remember my Lord's suffering and death? And why doesn't my church urge me to fast as a fitting way to prepare myself for the splendid Easter festival?