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December 2000

Expatriates at Worship: Going to church away from home

Our choir was invited to participate in the service so we came early to rehearse; their worship team was already practicing when we got there. The worship leader was surrounded by keyboard, guitars, drum set, and miked singers. It was a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place in Minneapolis or Memphis—but we were in Manila, in the Philippines.

Union Churches for Expatriates

Book: Following Jesus: More About Young Children and Worship

Sonja Stewart. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2000. 276 pp. $24.95.

When I opened my copy of Following Jesus, I felt like a young child for whom Christmas morning has finally arrived! I have led worship for four- and five-year-olds for several years and have eagerly awaited this sequel to Stewart’s first book, Young Children and Worship.

Lamb of God: Creating a service based on lamb passages in scripture

Of all the blessed and powerful images in the Bible, the image of the lamb, the Paschal Lamb of God, touches me most deeply. None speaks more profoundly of our redemption from the slavery of sin. None inspires more confidence in God’s ultimate righteous rule on this planet. None concludes with greater certainty that the Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah who will restore all that was lost and ruined in the fall.

Book: Changing Your Tune: The Musician's Handbook for Creating Contemporary Worship

Lynn Hurst. Nashville: Abingdon, 1999. 1-800-3320. 143 pp. $12.00.

We Were There: A holy week drama reflecting the experiences of those surrounding Jesus

Can we ever truly experience the grief of Good Friday? We know the ending and rejoice with our Savior that it is a happy one come Easter morn, but that very knowledge keeps us from fully realizing the tragedy that Christ’s death brought to those who lived through it. Whatever their understanding of his ministry, whatever hopes and dreams they had built for the future, all came crashing down before the stark and ugly death he suffered on the cross. Leader, friend, teacher, son—all seemed irretrievably lost.

Book: Worship Team Handbook

Alison Siewert (ed.), Andy Crouch, Matt Frazier, and Sundee Frazier. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 1-800-843-7225. 182 pp. $14.99.

Picturing Jesus: Children's bulletin ideas for Lent

Some parents asked our Worship Ministry team to consider ways of drawing children into our worship services, and as a parent of two school-aged daughters and a toddler, I concurred. When I read the Lenten series “Picture Jesus” (RW 54; also available here ), it struck me that the article and the artwork would lend themselves quite well to a kids’ bulletin series. Our pastor had planned on preaching a series in Lent concerning the questions that Jesus asked during his ministry.

Book: What Happens in Holy Communion?

Michael Welker. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000. 192 pp. $18.00. To order, call 1-800-253-7521 or e-mail

Hear, O Lord, and answer: A service of prayer

Emily Sybesma, is a member of the worship committee at First Christian Reformed Church, Sioux Center, Iowa. She planned the service together with Sue De Young and Ron Rynders; the readings and prayers after the sermon, prepared by Lewis Arkema, are based on the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).

The Opening


Crown the King

A few weeks ago, a product-engineer friend of mine and I were talking about church banners. He designs office furniture, so he is aware of the multitude of materials that are available to designers. Why, he wondered, do we often restrict our worship visuals to felt hangings, which we iron as perfectly flat as we possibly can? Why is this medium so universally accepted and why is, say, a wooden or metal sculpture less so?

Lift High the Cross: An Easter morning celebration

On Easter Sunday, our congregation worships in a festive way that has become a tradition. Our congregation has grown to love the “Flowering of the Cross,” an ancient Easter tradition that we have found very meaningful.


Responses to RW 54 on the Seder

Editor’s note: We asked Arlo Duba, RW editorial council member, to write the following introduction to a lengthy and passionate letter, which is printed below. Duba is professor of worship (emeritus) and former dean of the theological faculty at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.

Made new: ideas for a series from Easter to Ascension

How do we balance our joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection with the enduring reality of our fallen world? That’s the question we will focus on in these services for Eastertide, the seven weeks from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. The answer lies in the gospel we proclaim—a gospel of transformation. God takes what is and changes it to conform to his will. While this leads us to repent of former ways in the hope of future ones, it does not allow us to deny the former ways.



Authentic Worship in a Changing World
A one-day leadership training seminar led by Robert Webber in his continuing “Renew Your Worship!” series. Thousands of people have benefited from his teaching in many different cities throughout North America. Contact the Institute for Worship Studies, Box 894, Wheaton, IL 60189; 630-510-8905; fax 630-510-0601; website:

Songs for Lent, Healing, Palm Sunday, and Easter

All the songs presented here will be included in the forthcoming hymnal Sing! A New Creation. A committee of ten from the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church has selected about 270 songs for the hymnal. These were chosen from the best of contemporary hymn writers worldwide, including choruses from such diverse sources as Iona, Maranatha, Taizé, and Word. Spoken prayers, litanies, and responsorial psalms will also be included.

One Congregation's Experience with <em>We Were There</em>

To invite the congregation on a thoughtful Lenten journey, Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, adopted a two-pronged program that sought to harmonize corporate and personal times of reflection and worship and to deepen the congregation’s understanding of the emotions of Passion Week. Our entire Lenten series prepared us for the drama “We Were There.”

Minister of the Word-Through Music: An interview with Marty Haugen

It was hard to pick Marty Haugen out until he stepped up to the mike. Dressed simply and holding a guitar, he waited quietly for everyone in the chapel to settle down. Then, after first teaching us some of the responses we would be singing, he began the service of Evening Prayer. Haugen sang, “Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world” and, with a gesture, invited us to respond: “The light no darkness can overcome.” So began one of the services at the Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts this past January.

The Belgic Confession in Q&A Format page 1 to 3

The questions and answers that follow were prepared by Howard D. Vander Well. For his ideas on how to use these Q & As in worship, see RW 58, pp. 36-37.

Using the Belgic Confession in Worship: Q & A's make this classic confession accessible

How familiar are you and other members of your congregation with the Belgic Confession? Although the Belgic is one of the doctrinal standards of churches in the Reformed tradition, its language and format have tended to relegate it to a back shelf when it comes to planning worship. Many Reformed churches have had a long-honored practice of regularly preaching through the Heidelberg Catechism, but few include words from the Belgic in their liturgies.

Into and Out of the Depths: Letting the text shape the service

3/28 LOFT Planning Meeting

I knew it was coming. After a full season of services with a fairly pronounced sequence of confession and assurance (as is appropriate during Lent), the team articulated at today’s meeting their desire to “do something different” this week.

Communion Circle: Why Tracy planned not to take communion one Sunday

Tracy Leonard was planning not to take communion that Sunday, but not a soul in Bethel Church knew it, not even her husband. This is the path her determination had taken. The Lord’s Supper is a means of grace—the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ broken and spilled all over the earth for the sin of humankind, hers included.

A visit to Taize: The next best thing to being there

Anyone who has been to the Church of Reconciliation in the small French village of Taizé and worshiped there with Christians from all over the world, knows what an unforgettable experience it is. But translating extraordinary worship experiences to our own communities and congregations is notoriously difficult.

On Durable Music, the Ten Commandments and Palm-Passion Sunday

Q. What makes a piece of music durable?

A.Some factors that contribute to durability are fairly objective: music must be singable and interesting, texts must be true and memorable. Generally, songs with comparatively trite or idiosyncratic rhythms, melodies, or texts become dated in a hurry, as do songs that are dependent on a certain cultural context.

How to...Prepare Drama Productions for Your Church

The previous issue of Reformed Worship (57) included an article describing our church’s dramatic production on the life of Jesus based on Michael Card’s The Life. In this article I’d like to make suggestions for others who want to take the journey from the page to the stage.

1. Start with excellent material.

Book: The Worship Leader's Handbook: Practical Answers to Tough Questions

Tom Kraeuter. Lynnwood, Wash.: Emerald Books/Training Resources, 1997. 157 pp. $9.00. 1-888-333-1724.