December 2009

RW 94
Lent/Easter
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Our worship planning team decided to present the story of Jesus’ betrayal, death, and burial from the perspectives of those who were there. We chose six characters from the passion narratives and asked six people from the congregation to tell their stories. They were encouraged to immerse themselves in their character by reading the Scripture passage and by familiarizing themselves with the dramatic reading—even memorizing it, if they chose.

  • This service is designed for use on Good Friday, but it would also be appropriate for use throughout the Lenten season. As it stands, the service runs about forty minutes, although it could be lengthened by the addition of extra anthems. We used one reader for the Scripture lessons and different readers for each of the reflections, although it could also be done the other way around. Scripture readings were taken from The Message.

    Prelude

    Call to Worship

  • None of these songs can be called traditional hymns. Three of them are very short—just right for inviting churches (and schools!) to introduce them to children and for repeated use by the congregation during Lent or Eastertide. The other two songs are longer; they’re directly tied to Scripture passages scheduled for Year C in the Revised Common Lectionary that begins with Advent 2009.

  • Some time before Lent our pastor, Al Van Dellen, announced the theme of his Lenten messages: “Crucified—by My Hand.” The topics were Judas, Nicodemus, Peter, and the Centurion. I immediately thought of the wonderful readings from the drama “We Were There” by Marla Ehlers (see RW 58). We used Ehlers’s portrayals of Judas and Peter on the appropriate Sundays, and I wrote readings for Nicodemus and the Centurion, along with a service plan for the Centurion. I’m hoping others may find these useful!

  • Celebrating Easter with the Song of Songs may seem to be an unlikely pairing at first. But since we proclaim Christ as the consummate lover of the collective church and the individual soul, what could be more natural?

  • In our church, two very different things came together to form the idea of a text message worship experience.

    First, my fellow high school youth group leaders and I noticed that we spend a lot of time “policing” cell phone use during youth group events. Kids are constantly texting each other, even when they’re sitting just a few feet from each other! Second, we wanted to try making the season of Lent—and particularly Holy Week—more of a focus for our students.

  • This year I have enjoyed participating in events celebrating John Calvin’s five hundredth birthday in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Grand Rapids, and Montreat. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the keen interest in Calvin’s approach to worship. Here are brief answers to some of the most commonly asked questions I’ve received during these celebrations.

    Q What are some of the biggest differences between being a Christian in Geneva in the sixteenth century and being a Christian in North America today?

  • Reviews

    Sing with the World: Global Songs for Children
    Compiled by John L. Bell and Alison Adam. Glasgow: Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, 2008. GIA Publications, Inc., exclusive North American Agent. Spiral song book (G-7339) and CD (CD-771). To order go to www.giamusic.com or call 1-800-442-1358.

  • Imagine . . .

    Imagine you are Job. What are you thinking, feeling, and experiencing as you live through the loss of your property and your family? How do you experience the grief and then the questioning of your friends? How do you relate to God?

    Imagine you are the centurion watching yet another crucifixion. But this one is different . . . why? How does it feel to be forgiven by the one you have put to death? What do you make of the eerie darkness and the earthquake?

    Imagine you are Mary. Your heart is crushed by the sight of your son dying. How do you bear it?

  • News and Notes

    CRC/RCA Hymnal Gets a Name!

    Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs is the name of the hymnal to be published by Faith Alive Christian Resources in 2013.

    In our planning discussions the term “heart songs” comes up repeatedly. It is our prayer that the songs in this collection will represent the songs that reside in the hearts of people. These heart songs can be confessions, praises, laments, words of adoration, and psalms and contemporary, global, ancient, or hymn-like.