It happened again this past Sunday. A great worship service, including baptism. Wonderful singing—of hymns. No psalms, not one. This is a church that stands in the Reformed tradition known for its singing of the psalms. Whenever I go to ecumenical conferences, I’m identified as one who comes from a psalm-singing heritage. I smile wanly, agreeing. But that heritage is too often missing on Sunday mornings.
Articles in this issue:
These excerpts from my LOFT notes indicate that sometimes the synergy promised by team-based worship planning goes unrealized. On the other hand, there are times when efficiency isn’t necessarily a virtue—when a little team-based diversity of opinion might be welcome.
Keeping Paul’s missionary journeys straight can be tough. The stories are brief and many involve mostly preaching. It is hard to remember what happened. Our challenge was to communicate the information about Paul’s first missionary journey to our congregation in a way that was interesting, memorable, and brief. We wanted to present information about cities as well as people.
Q. What should we call the piece of furniture we use for the Lord’s Supper? An altar? A table? I’ve even heard it called an altar-table? Why that?
A. An altar is furniture for a sacrifice. Altars in the Old Testament temple and tabernacle were the place for the sacrifice of animals. In the medieval church, the Lord’s Supper or mass was celebrated at an altar. Correspondingly, the Lord’s Supper was understood to be the enactment or re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice.
Our worship planning team wanted to create a Maundy Thursday worship service that would provide historical and cultural context to Christ’s final hours before his crucifixion and offer an opportunity for the congregation to experience the symbols in a fresh way. I was challenged by our team to develop a vigil with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper as the centerpiece. In preparation, I immersed myself in the Passion narratives, commentaries, and historical accounts.
The adventurous pilgrim in search of true wisdom will brave harsh clime and harrowing climb to question the mountaintop guru about the meaning of life. Modern pilgrims in search of worship-related wisdom need only brave slow Internet connections. The era of the point-and-click expert is here, via the World Wide Web. Of course, not all experts are equally helpful or equally wise. What follows, then, is a report of three helpful worship guru websites I’ve discovered on my electronic travels.
I’ll admit that I’m not too fond of sin. I’m speaking, of course, as a pastor and a preacher describing a bias in my preaching that I’ve carried for years. Too often in my experience the church has been a “guilt-giving culture,” and I have committed myself to preaching grace.
C. Randall Bradley. MorningStar Music Publishers, 2004. 330 pp. $32.00.
C. Randall Bradley offers a unique gift to those serving in the church’s music ministry: a book exclusively about thriving in the organizational and administrative aspects of the work.
Bradley systematically raises questions and issues that pastoral musicians inevitably face:
Our Lent series this year focused on the theme of sin. We used the seven deadly sins as a guide to examine our sin in some of the services. The first week of the series was a very general introduction to sin. The second week we introduced the seven deadly sins, using dirty rags to represent each of the sins.
William Willimon. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002. 386 pp. $17.00.
Willimon’s announced task is to describe the theology and practice of ordained Christian ministry. His provocative book begins with an analysis of ordination and a description of images of the pastor that are common in contemporary culture. Chapter by chapter, he then describes and reflects on the biblical images of the pastor as priest, preacher, counselor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, and leader.