Share |

December 1990

Worshiping with Aliens and Angels

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.

Book: Our Heritage of Hymns Series II

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.

Beyond Trumpets and Lilies: Practical ideas for the 90-day Easter cycle

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.


More Resources for Organists

Since organists take part in every service, I would like to see more helps for them in RW; many choirs sing far less often.

Elaine De Groot
Lismore, MN

Dirt at the Foot of the Cross: Using common materials to communicate the themes of Lent

During the 1990 Lenten season at Hessel Park Church in Champaign, Illinois, a local artist, Linda Vredeveld, demonstrated that liturgical art can be as unassuming as a pile of dirt at the foot of a cross. She chose common materials such as dirt, light cloth, and twigs and gave them new meaning in the worship setting.


Presbyterian Conferences

1991 conferences scheduled around the new Presbyterian Hymnal and the Directory for Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA): January 14-16, Princeton, NJ; February 18-20, Austin, TX; April 18-20, Minneapolis, MN; April 25-27, San Diego, CA; May 1-3, Chicago, IL; May 9-11, Louisville, KY

Contact: Theology and Worship Unit, Room 3406, Presbyterian Center, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202, (502) 569-5289

What To Do With Good Friday

"What can I use for a Good Friday sermon next week?" my pastor friend moaned over the phone. "I'd like to focus on one of Christ's sayings from the cross, but many of my people will have attended a community service on the seven last words in the afternoon. What's left to preach about on Good Friday evening?"

Prayers and Litanies; Good Friday resources


Leader: He gave his back to the smiters and his cheeks to those who pulled out his beard.

All: He hid not his face from shame and spitting.

Leader: He set his face like flint.

Women: He knows he shall not be put to shame.

Men: The LORD God helps him.

Women: Who will declare him guilty?
—Isaiah 50:6-8

Leader: He was despised and rejected by men.

The Passion of Our Lord

This dramatic reading of John's passion narrative uses the NIV text of John 18-19; small changes were made in the biblical text to encourage greater clarity in this script.

The following roles are necessary:

Evangelist (Narrator)
A Servant Girl
An Official
A Bystander
A Servant
A Chorus of Priests
Several Soldiers
The Crowd

Journey into Assurance: Ideas for the Easter season based on 1 John

Theme: Assurance of Life in Christ
Scripture: 1 John 1:1-4

The period between Easter and Pentecost is a time of celebrating the new life in Christ, of contemplating exactly what it means to be "alive with Christ" (Col. 2:13), and of growing in the assurance that such life is ours now and always.

Easter Prayers and Readings


Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!

Glory and honor,
dominion and power,
be to God for ever and ever.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Rejoice, heavenly choirs of angels.

Rejoice, all creation around God's throne.

Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!

Sound the trumpet of salvation.

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,

Hymns for Lent, Easter, and Pentecost

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.

One in the Spirit: Involving persons with disabilities in worship

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!

Copy Right!: Is your church guilty of music piracy?

© 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.

An Archbishop for all Seasons: Thomas Cranmer and the Book of common prayer

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.

Sabbath Insomnia

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.

Book: Participating in Worship: History, Theory, and Practice

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.

Hymnal: Songs of Rejoicing

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