December 2009

RW 94
Lent/Easter
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • 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.

  • Taste and See

    The comforting smell of baking bread may evoke childhood memories of your mother’s kitchen or remind you of leisurely Saturday mornings sitting at the local bakery with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. But few people associate that lovely aroma with church services, even though bread figures prominently in worship.

  • Saturday night, the night before Easter, about forty-five of us gathered in the dusk in the narthex outside the sanctuary doors. We settled ourselves and began to gather our hearts for worship—a new service—a kind of modified Easter Vigil for us to try. The sanctuary doors opened to reveal a path of light—tiny votive candles perched on the side of each pew—making a pathway of light through the dim and dark sanctuary.

  • Have you ever dined with a Muslim? Or with a person from South Africa? Ever shared a meal with a homeless person or with the mayor of the town or city where you live? The answers to these deceptively simple questions communicate more about our “social capital” than we might at first expect.

    In recent years the term “social capital” has become a buzz phrase with many different definitions. Most of these definitions refer to human relationships within society and distinguish between three different kinds of social capital: bonding, bridging, and linking.

  • By His Stripes

    Many churches drape a strip of cloth on the cross in their worship space during Lent. Sometimes a black cloth for Good Friday is changed to a white cloth for Easter. Amazing, isn’t it, how making such a small addition to something we’re so used to seeing can be so noticeable!

    The visual presented here builds on this idea but adds a bit of coarseness and texture to your cross, which, if your church is anything like mine, is a finely polished and architecturally appropriate symbol of the blood-stained boards our Savior was hung on.

  • [During this service, the sanctuary doors will remain closed. The ushers stand outside the doors to encourage people to enter the sanctuary in reverent silence.]

    Call to Worship: “Be Still, for the Presence” SNC 11 Stanza 1, sung by soloist

    Scripture Reading: selected verses from Psalm 38

  • The story of Job is the story of a man who lived long ago and far away in the country of Uz. But it is also the story of every person who has ever tried to make sense of undeserved suffering and the seeming absence of God. It’s a powerful story of deep faith in tragic times.

    The book of Job challenges our ideas about how life should be lived and who God is. The story seizes us, demands our imagination, and refuses to let go until we have wrestled with the same life-shaping questions that haunt the main character.