The Three Great Days: Remembering Christ's death and resurrection calls for more than worship on Easter (and all the 'little Easters')
How many extra services does your church plan during Holy Week? Traditionally, most Presbyterian and Reformed congregations have held a service on Good Friday. Some have also gathered for a sunrise service on Easter morning. But few have considered anything further.
In recent years, that pattern has begun to change. Worship planners have enthusiastically discovered the riches of a liturgical heritage that goes beyond traditional Holy Week offerings, and have added new services to their Holy Week schedules.
James Rawlings Sydnor. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1989.132 pages. $12.95.
Sydnor is a respected Presbyterian hymnologist who earlier wrote the helpful Hymns & Their Uses and Hymns: a Congregational Study (both published by Agape). Part One of his new book focuses on how to introduce a new hymnal to a congregation, how to understand the resources of a new hymnal, and how to thrive on "readiness, gradualness, repetition, and perseverance."
Last Ash Wednesday I pulled out all the stops. My congregation had participated in Ash Wednesday services before, but nothing like this one. Since I was relatively new to the church and still enjoying a honeymoon with the members, I remember feeling particularly brave and adventurous—probably too adventurous.
Shandra Wanamaker: I don't care what my father says about this whole mess. In my mind nothing would have happened if any other pianist played that music. The fact is, lots of people can't stand the way Jennifer dresses.
Jack Elsons: As elders, we had no choice. People are so scared about this New Age stuff that even a scent of it in our church is enough to start a whole round of witchcraft trials. If we did nothing, the whole place would have gone up in smoke. We had no choice.
In this reflection on Romans 13:11-12, Pastor Kelderman tells the story of the death of one of his parishioners. Kelderman first presented this message the week the parishioner died and repeated it as part of an Easter Vigil service at COLAM1991.
This dramatic reading of the Emmaus story from Luke's gospel is intended to be incorporated into an evening service on Easter Sunday, It requires the following voices:
This saipt follows the NTV text of Luke 24:13-35, and incorporates Old Testament passages, as indicated. Small changes were made in the biblical text to encourage greater clarity in this dramatic reading.
Were You There
The season of Lent is a time for Christians to learn more of what it means to be followers of Christ, whose love for us went all the way to the cross. The hymn "Were You There" provides a means by which we can thoughtfully relate the Lenten events to our own lives.
Praise to Our Risen Lord
Prelude and Personal Meditation
Choral Call to Worship: "Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!"
Our Easter Shout of Praise:
Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!
Glory and honor, dominion and power, be to our God for ever and ever!
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Our Easter Song of Praise: "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"
[PsH 388, PH 113, RL 325, TH 277]
In December, 1990, our congregation—Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan—celebrated its 75th anniversary. Rather than trying to squeeze our celebration into a one-day program, we spread it out over the entire fall season, beginning with the Sunday in September when we kicked off our church programs and concluding with three very special Sundays in November and December.
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
—James 5:13-16, NRSV
Last year we celebrated the 21st anniversary of the dedication of the pipe organ in our church. Maybe that's a peculiar anniversary to celebrate, but there were reasons for our choice. I was still grieving over the loss of both my parents the previous year, and our congregation was adjusting to the departure of our long-time pastor. We needed something special to celebrate, and since reaching the age of twenty-one is often a milestone in our culture, we decided to celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of our church organ.
Prelude: "A Palm Sunday Processional on 'All Glory, Laud, and Honor'"
We Celebrate Palm Sunday
Scripture: Luke 19:37-40
Hymn: "All Glory, Laud, and Honor"
[PsH 375-376, PH 88, RL 279, TH 235]
Reading: "Five Days Before Friday"
[Thomas John Carlisle]
Children in your congregation know what an organ is. Most of them see and hear one every Sunday. They may even have walked up close and examined all of its keys and knobs and tabs. But that's not really the organ; that's only the "console," where the organist sits. For those churches that have a pipe organ, the real organ—or the parts that actually make the sounds—is the pipes.
More Focus on Organ, Please
My belated thanks [for the article that included] specific music for the organ by Jan Overduin in RW 15. Contributions for organ are a good idea, given the fact that 90 percent of the musical activity in our services involves congregational singing with an organ as the main instrument.
Following a prescribed pattern for preaching, such as the Common Lectionary provides, is certainly not a new concept in Reformed churches. For centuries pastors in the Calvinist tradition have preached sermons based on the consecutive Lord's Days of the Heidelberg Catechism. It's a practice called "catechetical preaching," and it grew out of the church's need to educate its people about the doctrines and standards that they professed.
A Confession to Learn By
What part, if any, does the Heidelberg Catechism play in your liturgy? If you are Presbyterian, probably none at all, since it is not part of the Scottish and English tradition. If your roots are Reformed and from the European continent, you are probably familiar with the Catechism as it is used in preaching.
continued from part 1
THE FIFTH WORD FROM THE CROSS
Evangelist: John 19:28-29
Becoming More Common: Why more and more congregations are turning to the Common Lectionary for worship planning
How does your pastor choose next Sunday's Scripture lesson? Is he doing a series on the fruits of the Spirit? Following the Heidelberg Catechism? Preaching his way through a gospel or an epistle? The approaches that pastors in Reformed and Presbyterian churches take to planning what they will preach on from Sunday to Sunday are almost as varied as the people in the congregations they serve.
Considering the Lectionary
PC—Politically Correct. It’s a topic that has recently been a favorite of the columnists and commentators, as well as making the rounds on the late–night TV news analysis and call–in show circuit.
A Well-Trained Tongue. Ray Loner-gan. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1982.106 pages. $6.95.
Lector Training Program: This Is the Word of the Lord. Michael Sparough. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988. $24.00.
Workbook for Lectors and Gospel Readers (Year A). Graziano Marcheschi with Nancy Seitz Marcheschi. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1992.178 pages. $8.00.
Gabe Huck. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1989.101 pages. $5.95.
This booklet features a Roman Catholic priest's "thoughts about liturgy for musicians." In a simple but provoking conversational style, Huck muses on such things as what it is we do when we engage in worship, how we do things musically "by heart" in Christian rituals, how the Psalms should be central to our experience, how important silence is, and what kinds of texts and music(s) we should use in contemporary worship.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Supplemental Liturgical Resource 7. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992. 428 pages. $14.95.
The Presbyterian Church hopes to have a new common service book ready by 1993. Meanwhile, seven "trial" books have been published since 1980 in the Supplemental Liturgical Resource series that have tested material to be included in the new service book.
In place of our usual Service Planning column, in which we offer a series of sendee ideas for several weeks, we present in this issue a single, complete Good Friday service. The service centers around the final sayings of Jesus on the cross, and was developed by organist Robert Busch for the 1991 Good Friday Service at theFlatbush Church of the Redeemer in Brooklyn, New York.