Bringing the people to the upper room
The school gym where I worship is normally bright and bustling before a service. On this Thursday night, however, it is dim and quiet, dozens of small candles providing the only light. In place of the usual rows of chairs there are rows of tables, snaking back and forth to form a single continuous line. At the head table a prominent array of thirteen candles symbolizes Christ and his disciples, whose last supper together this Maundy Thursday service will commemorate.
The faces of the Cherub Choir members shine as they finish their song. Before I know it, I am applauding with everyone else. What am I doing? I glance around to see if anyone is watching. (We liturgy professors take ourselves very seriously.) What are we to make of this increasingly popular practice of applauding in worship?
Hymn Competition in celebration of the 150th anniversary of an urban church in the Reformed tradition. Deadline for hymn text: July 1, 1989. Deadline for a subsequent hymn tune competition for the winning text: December 1,1989. Cash award of $300.00 for each winner. For details, contact: Hymn Competition, Central Reformed Church, 10 College NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, (616) 459-3260.
In Reformed Worship 9 we invited readers to respond to the article 'Paying the Piper." Many of you took the time to respond, some in greater detail than we could include here. But judging by the responses that follow, there is considerable need for more discussion and reflection on the issue of compensation for church musicians. (Some names have been withheld at the request of the authors.)
Through music we have the privilege of teaching children and helping them understand more fully the heritage and theology of the church as well as the meaning and order of the liturgical year. The music listed on this page may be sung in unison by children and incorporated within the worship service as a call to worship, a call to prayer, a response to prayer, the offertory (children's gift of music), or a response to the benediction.
The "great fifty days" of Eastertide begin on Easter Sunday, marking the end of the somber days of Lent. Songs, music, and sermons during the Eastertide season reflect the joy and celebration of the resurrection.
Not even the Bible's best could win congregational support.
When Pastor Rog left Springvale Church, there was no weeping or gnashing of teeth. Not that he and the members of Springvale didn't get along. Pastor Rog was easy to like—and he followed the rules. He wore the right clothes and sent his kids to the right school. He frequently attended local society functions—often enough anyway to keep up a presence for the church in the city. And his wife had a respectable part-time job at a local nursing home.
The various seasons and festivals of the church year reflected in the Hymn-of-the-Month series focus on the life and the teachings of Christ. The church year may be called Christ's year.
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.
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."
Reading: Philippians 2:5—11
Hymn: "O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High" (PH 364, RIL 342, 343, TH 121)
CHRIST'S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
Reading: Luke 19:29-38
Hymn: "All Glory, Laud, and Honor" (HB 187, PH 375, RIL 279, TH 173)
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!"