In his book Suspicion and Faith (Eerd-mans, 1993) philosopher Merold West-phal makes the provocative suggestion that preachers use Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche as the starting point for a series of Lenten reflections. Since these men were all profound atheists, Westphal's suggestion may at first seem merely absurd. But upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the idea has merit.
Articles in this issue:
An Easter service often begins with great festivity, with bright organ and trumpet music, with "all the lights up." Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church chose a different mood for this Easter service. Their concern was to remember that Easter morning is the completion of the Holy Week journey. So the service began the way it concluded on Good Friday: in darkness, with no banners, no flowers, no prelude.
That it happened when it did, no one could have guessed. Who'd expect a worship war midsummer—the time when things aren't really rolling along in church with much steam? That it would happen, however, could have been predicted by anyone with even a little bit of foresight. The "praise and worship" brouhaha had been fomenting for almost two years, and all that energy finally blew the cork off the unsettled peace otherwise registered on the faces of the Prince of Peace Fellowship worship committee.
On January 16, 1994, Church of the Servant (CRC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, held services of celebration and dedication in its new sanctuary (pictured). On these pages you will find the dedication readings from the evening service and the call to worship from the morning service of the following week. The call to worship was adapted from a sermon of St. Augusting.
In an article titled 'A Wretch Like Who?" (America, 1/29/94) Brian Abel Ragen notes that some contemporary versions of 'Amazing Grace" have changed the line "that saved a wretch like me" to "that saved and strengthened me." Ragen writes:
Do banners hang in your worship space?
During the last couple of decades, interest in banners has enjoyed a revival. As a result, many congregations have decided to add a banner or two to their sanctuary. But often they haven't really thought through the purpose and meaning of those banners. Do banners add to worship, inspiring worshipers to reflect on who they are as children of God and what kind of God we are called to serve? Or are they merely decorations to brighten up a dull or plain space?
I'm writing these thoughts at the end of August, after visiting and preaching in a number of different churches. Although these congregations were theologically rather uniform, their worship idioms differed greatly—ranging from stately Canterbury to enthusiastic Nashville. And some of the congregations showed cracks and crevices in their koinonia, because of differences in their worship preferences. All of which made me take stock again of my stance on various worship issues.
Here's my worship credo of ten years ago:
"Using an interlude to raise the pitch for the last stanza is unmusical and theatrical."
[Harold Gleason, McHiod of Organ Playing, 6th ed, 1979, p. 221]
"On special occasions, vigorous congregational singing can be promoted by transposing a hymn to a higher key for the last verse."
[George Ritchie and George Stauffer, Organ Technique, Modem and Early, 1992, p. 362]
Paul B. Brown. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.176 pp., $12.00.