December 2009

RW 94
Lent/Easter
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • 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.

  • Praying the Headlines

    It’s no secret that students are attracted to visual media. Images from television, video games, mobile phones, and the Internet saturate their days and nights. They use images to communicate with their friends. They learn with visuals in the classroom. They entertain themselves with pictures and animation.

  • This Good Friday service focuses on Mark 14-15. As Jesus cries out from the cross, the curtain of the temple tears from top to bottom, opening the way into the Holy of Holies. The service begins with the Old Testament background of the tabernacle and temple and culminates in communion in the most holy presence of God, not just for the High Priest, but for everyone who comes by way of the cross.

  • It Is Finished

    What did Jesus mean when he said “It is finished”? This readers’ theater examines the multiple meanings of that phrase. It would work well in any Good Friday service, but is especially appropriate as part of a service on the Last Words of Christ (see RW 14 and 78 for service ideas on the Last Words). —JB

    [As readers’ theater begins, a cellist plays “Man of Sorrows” in the background.]

  • 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.