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December 2001

A Good Funeral: Worship in the face of death

The other day I was grocery shopping. The cashier and I exchanged the standard “How are you doing today?” But this time she took my question seriously.

“Not so good.”

“Why is that?” I asked, going (somewhat unwillingly) into pastoral care mode.

“I had a hard weekend. Two funerals—an aunt and a friend.”

Storytelling Triptych

It's Sunday morning. You're dead tired. It's been a hectic week, even without the pressure of having to finish the Lent banner in time. After waiting long enough to make sure that none of the flower committee members would show up to "help," it was late at night when you finally got your banner to hang just right.

More Than One Kind of Dying: A tenebrae service based on Wangerin's Mourning into Dancing

Bulletin Note
Tenebrae, from the Latin word for “shadows,” has been observed in the church of Jesus Christ since the fourth century, on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. During the service, different readers will recall the events that led Jesus to the cross, and we will extinguish seven candles, one by one, dramatizing the suffering and death of Jesus. The diminishing light symbolizes the fading devotion of the disciples and the sin of the world. At the end of the service the worship center will be dark.

The Great Fifty Days: Seven service plans from Easter to Ascension, page 2 of 2

Second Sunday of Eastertide

The Lord’s Supper

Opening hymn
“Lift Your Heart to the Lord” PsH 515
Ties together last week (baptism) with this week (The Lord’s Supper)

Psalm 66
Read responsively as follows:
1-4, 5-7, 8-12, 13-15 16-19; all on verse 20.

Sunday Morning Live: A Palm Sunday drama

  • Simon the scribe: a reporter for Jerusalem Broadcast News; serious, professional, holds a mike, carries a notepad and pen.
  • Tobias: an informal acquaintance of Simon.
  • Camera person to train video camera on Simon throughout (optional).

[Simon enters from right with energy, ready to tell the story unfolding in front of him. He and the camera person take their positions; Simon faces the congregation, which is the crowd. He lifts mike and begins his report.]

Take Me to the Water: Hymns and Psalms relating to Baptism

From the Psalter Hymnal (PsH) (CRC Publications, 1987) and the Presbyterian Hymnal (PH) (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990)

The Great Fifty Days: Seven service plans from Easter to Ascension, page 1 of 2

Eastertide offers the church a wonderful opportunity to explore what Laurence Stookey calls the “explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord,” a feat that is “too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.” Eastertide can also give churches the chance to experience weekly communion for a short period of seven celebrative weeks. And it can reclaim for the contemporary church the historical season known as The Great Fifty Days—the days from Easter to Pentecost. (For reasons of space, we have not included the service for Pentecost Sunday.)

How Are We Doing?: A conversation about celebrating the sacraments


Members of the Worship Commission of the Christian Reformed Church who contributed to this discussion:
Victoria Cok, student, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Lisa De Boer, professor of art, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California.
Wayne A. Brouwer, pastor, Harderwyk Christian Reformed pastor, South Bend (Indiana) Christian Reformed Church.
David J. Diephouse, academic dean and provost, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Take Me to the Water: Ideas for keeping baptism front and center

An extensive list of hymns and psalms relating to baptism are available here.


Living Water: A baptismal renewal service

One of the key themes of recent liturgical renewal is the insight that baptism is the root and foundation of the Christian life. In our baptism, we are united to Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom. 6). The Christian life is an ongoing experience of the dying of our old selves and rising of the new.

Pulpit or Table: Pick Any Two: The church needs both to be well fed

This article is reprinted with permission from Perspectives (March 2001).

It seems to me no accident that the recovery of interest in biblical preaching has coincided with an increase in the frequency of Holy Communion. In his 1962 book Pulpit and Table, Howard Hageman, a pastor and scholar from the Reformed Church in America, said, “A church that loses the Word must finally lose the sacrament. But is it not equally true that a church which loses the sacrament must finally lose the Word?”

Work and Worship in Harmony: Learning from the Iona community

John Bell has been avoiding me.

In the past few years, I’ve been increasingly nurtured by the music the Iona Community produces and distributes. But for most of that time, the hope that I would ever encounter Bell, perhaps its best-known member, had been diminishing.

Songs from Iona

According to the Iona community’s Wild Goose Worship Group, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter “are marked by a series of progressions.” As Christ walked a path marked by suffering and unparalleled victory, so believers follow in his steps—“through fear to courage, from private suspicion to public testimony, from a scattered band of loners and losers to a tightly knit community of faith” (Stages on the Way: Worship Resources for Lent, Holy Week & Easter, p. 11).

Not Yet: Making the most of anticipation and celebration in Easter

4/10 Planning Meeting

The team helped me make sense of the cryptic note I’d made on our order of worship for last year’s service: “Too big, too fast.” They remembered how the beginning especially felt like forced celebration. All those “Alleluia”s and “He is risen”s and a long set of exuberant songs to start things up. But the night was cloudy and dreary, and the team was tuckered out from helping to lead the “pull out the stops” services in their home churches that morning.

The Burden of the Crucifix: What the Sweetbrier Pastor did instead of writing Lenten sermons

It wasn’t writer’s block. It’s just that he’d much rather do anything than sit down and write Lenten sermons, not because he didn’t like writing sermons but because he didn’t like Lent—all that doom and gloom when what the people wanted was joy, the glorious joy of Easter. And so did he.

Share and Share Alike: Free--and nearly free--drama resources

The Internet was first touted to the general public as an extraordinary information-sharing tool: a resource to help like-minded people exchange knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration. But today what people share, as often as anything else, is credit card numbers. Everyone, it seems, is out to make a buck—even in the world of worship. There are dozens of sites on the web that offer worship resources—drama, music, liturgy, technical advice, even sermons—for a price.

Book: Stones for Bread: A Critique of Contemporary Worship

Daniel A. Frankforter. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. 195 pp. $19.95.

Daniel Frankforter is a professor of medieval history and an incredibly articulate critic of the prevalent worship practices in today’s church. As much as this new volume troubles me, I must say that it has been extremely valuable to me as a worship planner, leader, and educator.

CD-ROM: Hymns for Worship: Words and Music Graphics to Search and Export

Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2001. 1-800-328-4648; order 0-8066-4074; ISBN 080664074X. $279.

The hefty price of this CD-ROM may give you pause, but stop and take a second look—it may be money very well spent.


New from CRC Publications/Faith Alive Christian Resources