December 1990

RW 18
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:


    I Love the Lord...(Psalm 116)

    Lenten worship services usually include a time of confession. If they don't, they certainly ought to. This year consider beginning your Lenten worship not in the typical way—with strong praise-filled singing—but rather with a subdued liturgy of confession and assurance of pardon. The people first come confessing, are assured of God's forgiving love, and are then eager and ready to approach God in praise and thanksgiving.

  • Harold Wylie is an elderly and significantly retarded member of Grace Church. Though ambulatory, he walks with difficulty; his language skills are limited. Conversation with Harold consists mainly of a few stock phrases, the most frequent being "How ya doin' buddy," accompanied by a pat on the back. Harold speaks this line many times each Sunday, occasionally with a twist. Once I heard him greet our pastor with the words, "Hello you devil you!" Only Harold could get away with that, though others of us are tempted to try!

  • © Consider the following scenario: Your worship planning team is planning a service. Everything goes smoothly until it comes to selecting the hymns. Your pew hymnal just doesn't have a song that will go along with the service's theme. Finally someone in your group picks up another hymnal and comes across just the right hymn. Everyone agrees. "Let's print it in the bulletin," one member of your group suggests. "How about using an overhead?" another says. "Do we have to get permission?" wonders still another.

  • Who is Thomas Cranmer and why is he being featured in Reformed Worship? As readers of Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons will recall, it was difficult for Thomas More (1478-1535) to be faithful as Lord Chancellor and as a Catholic Christian during a time when King Henry VIII's attitude and demands about state and church were changing so markedly. Shortly after More died, Thomas Cranmer faced comparable difficulties in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior and powerful bishopric in England.

  • Ann-Marie really wished she hadn't noticed.

    Right after Pastor Barry started the morning service on Sunday, he brought up seven kids who'd gone to a retreat at Holiday Mountain, had them each recount some weekend highlight, then asked them to sing a verse of the theme song. Since it's not every day that teenagers sing with such gusto, the moment thrilled the congregation.

  • Craig Douglas Erickson. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989, 223 pp.

    Many contemporary voices are seeking to make worship more appealing—a tendency that often transforms services into performances in which the congregation is entertained. The basic thrust of this book is to counter that movement. Erickson asserts that worship needs to become more participatory through the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  • David P. Schaap and John Worst, editors. New Brunswick: Selah Publishing Company, 1989. $8.75 soft cover; $12.00 hard cover. Available from Selah Publishing Co. P.O. Box 103, Accord, NY 12404; 1-800-852-6172

  • Generalizations are dangerous, but I'll hazard one. I have visited enough churches in The Netherlands to generalize that usually not a soul or body in those congregations will so much as nod a greeting at a visitor. After the service there may be occasional "hellos" among friends, but few people linger. Five minutes after the benediction both the sanctuary and the bicycle parking lot are empty.

  • Mary Nelson Kiethahn, editor. Garland TX: Chorister's Guild, 1989, 128 pp., $24.95.

    In situations of joy as well as in occasions of crisis, phrases or refrains of hymns will sing in our minds, offering encouragement and consolation. Because hymns are a powerful tool for learning and using theology, we need to consider where—or if—our children are learning to sing and love a variety of the great hymns of faith.

  • For years Protestant churches observed the Easter cycle during the span of one week, beginning on Palm Sunday with a sermon on Jesus' triumphal entry and followed by a service on Good Friday. The observance ended with a service on Easter morning in which the congregation sang all the great resurrection hymns. Trumpets rang out, lilies flooded the pulpit area and the narthex, and choirs sang Easter choral arrangements and cantatas.