Although Psalm-singing has long been one of the identifying characteristics of the Reformed tradition, the singing of psalms in worship is by no means a Reformed innovation. We share the riches of the biblical psalter with the whole Christian church, as well as with the Jewish synagogue.
Articles in this issue:
A dramatic reading from Luke 23
The passion narrative, which describes the suffering of Jesus during the crucifixion and the week that preceded it, forms one of the key events in the Christian story, a story the church must listen to. Many congregations read all of the passion story during Holy Week—sometimes in one service. The evening service of Palm/'Passion Sunday offers a fine opportunity for such a reading.
Stories—all of us love them. A good story lives in the memory, enlivens and evokes thought and feeling, invites identification and involvement, and works its special magic long after truths stated in a more dogmatic way have sunk into oblivion. As Anthony de Mellow says, "The shortest distance between truth and the hearts of hearers is a story."
Planning a special service for your church and community? Consider a hymn festival, a blending of song and readings, often from Scripture, that appeals to people of all ages.
The apostle Paul urged the people of Ephesus to sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns when they were together, and to go on singing and chanting to the Lord in their hearts, "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20 NIV).
The houses around our church in Scarborough,at the eastern edge of Toronto, look like suburban houses anywhere in North America. Their inhabitants do not. If all of the neighborhood's residents gathered in the street, one would see an astonishingly diverse assembly-— different colors, different languages, different religions— "from every nation under heaven."
One of my impetuous classmates once decided Lo ignore local custom. He was preparing to preach in a church in Holland, Michigan—a church with a conservative, low-church background. Instead of wearing his navy suit, my friend donned his black Genevan gown. As he walked down the center aisle after the service, he was startled to hear someone hiss "papist!"