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December 2010

What Language Shall I Borrow?

What language shall I borrow to thank you,
  dearest Friend,
For this, your dying sorrow, your mercy
  without end?
Lord, make me yours forever, a loyal servant true,
And let me never, never outlive my love for you.

—Medieval Latin poem

Giving It Up for Lent, Easter Egg Hunts

Q We hear a lot about people “giving things up for Lent.” What implications might this practice have for corporate worship?

A Individuals often go without a certain food or activity as a way to make Jesus’ journey toward the cross more prominent in their life. But perhaps congregations could consider similar practices or emphases communally.


The Worshiping Body: The Art of Leading Worship
by Kimberly Bracken Long,
Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. 130 pages.

Good Friday News

A Litany Combining Psalm 22 with The New York Times

For this litany David Gambrell took Psalm 22, a traditional psalm for Good Friday, and interspersed it with quotes from The New York Times (Good Friday, March 21, 2008). Consider putting together a similar service using current news articles. You could use two readers—one for the psalm quotes (in italics) and one for the news quotes (roman)—or use many readers by having
different readers for each of the news quotes.


Psalm 22. For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

News & Notes

Reformed Worship to Celebrate 100th Issue

The staff of RW has been working hard in anticipation of our 100th issue, which marks twenty-five years of sharing worship resources and articles. That issue will be dedicated to the theme of celebration and joy, with resources from the book of Philippians. If you have resources related to any of those topics, please send them to us by December 1, and we will be happy to consider them for inclusion in that issue.

Lead Me to the Rock

Passion Service with Readers' Theater

Props and Set

Eleven medium-size rocks, ten on a large black cloth at stage left and one at front, center stage. Metal wheelbarrow at back, center stage. Wooden cross, stage right. Lighted Christ candle on a high table next to Narrator.


Narrator; Person (dressed in black and wearing black gloves); Judas; Jesus; False Witnesses; High Priest; two Servant Girls; Peter; Observer; Pilate; Crowd (can be made up of False Witnesses, two Servant Girls, and Observer); Soldiers

Just Enough . . .

Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matt. 16:23).

When I read that verse, my first response is that I want that kind of wisdom to rightly discern what is not of God. But then Jesus goes on to say to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (v. 24).

Visualizing Hope

A Visual Imagery Project

As a culture we enjoy a rich verbal component to our worship. We read Scripture, offer praise and petition, listen to sermons, and share our celebrations and concerns. Some of us are more comfortable using words to express our response in worship, while others are more at ease with images (see the article “A Creative Communion” by Eric Nykamp, p. 18.)

To the Cross

A Good Friday Service

This service of Scripture, song, and Supper is intended for use on Good Friday. It is designed to help people walk with Jesus to the cross during his Passion as they hear various passages of Scripture from Luke’s gospel, ideally read by people of various ages. Sections marked TWS are from The Worship Sourcebook, available at

Call to Worship

Stations of the Cross

Our Journey with Jesus

A van-load of Southern Baptists from the hills of West Virginia drives 160 miles to meditate on a Stations of the Cross art exhibit—twice? What’s wrong with this picture?

A Creative Communion

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Cor. 12:4-6).

Old and New Songs for Lent

O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days; Lord, Have Mercy; We Are People on a Journey; Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery

O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days

Let the Trumpet Sound!

A Compilation of Easter Music for Trumpet and Brass

Easter Sunday celebrations are one of the high points of our Christian faith and worship. As such the worship planned for this day ought to be particularly festive. While there are many ways to heighten the festivities through visuals and movement, music is of particular importance on this day—especially music that includes trumpet and brass. Gathered below is a compilation of music for your consideration, including commentary about its difficulty level and other helpful information.

*Denotes optional timpani accompaniment.

An Arts Festival for Holy Week

A Celebration of Christ-centered Arts

Symbols, shapes, and colors help us to visually embody the Christ story and spiritual truths of Holy Week. As artists reveal these biblical images through paint, glass, photography, or mixed media, we visually relive Jesus’ last earthly days in Jerusalem. This was the purpose of Trinity’s first arts festival, “A Celebration of Christ-centered Arts,” a two-day event held on Palm Sunday weekend in 2009. The festival was open to the public all day Saturday and on Sunday afternoon. The art also became an engaging part of our Sunday worship service.

The Suffering Servant

A Good Friday Service on Isaiah 53

While Isaiah 53 was written with the captivity of Israel in mind, its verses contain a prophetic account of the sufferings of Christ, including the design of his sufferings. Jesus suffered for our sins, in our place. This atonement is the only way of salvation. By his sufferings Jesus purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God. We will endure if we love him who has first loved us.

This service was designed to include the following elements:

Kingdom Submission

A Contemplative Service of Gethsemane

The following service was part of a Passion Week emphasis in Trinity Western University’s thirty-minute campus chapels in the spring of 2010. Our intent was to “watch and pray” with Jesus: to listen to the prayers of his heart at this most crucial time in his passion, and thus, as the disciples longed to do, be taught to pray. To do this, we interwove Luke’s record of the Gethsemane prayer with the High Priestly prayer in John 17. The overall spirit of the service was contemplative, with lots of room for silence.

Singing the Shepherd Psalm

Part 3 of Three Articles on Psalm 23

The following article, though not typical for Reformed Worship, is well worth spending some time on. Pastors, musicians, and worship planners alike can benefit from considering the pairing of text and tune and the challenges that arise from a plethora of choices. In addition, several denominations are in the process of developing new hymnbooks for congregational song. This series of articles provides a glimpse of some of the detailed discussions that take place when considering the pairing of texts and tunes.


Get That Dead Thing Off the Pulpit

Four Ways to Breathe Life into Your Sermons

There on the pulpit, my sermon was dead. Again. It was just too much: too heavy, too complicated, too cumbersome. It had given up its Holy Ghost. But I carried it up there to preach anyway. The truth is, after twenty years of preaching, I got lost for a while, and I preached a lot of roadkill.

For the sake of my soul and for the souls of my hearers, I’ve identified three forces from within and without that were killing my sermons before God made me able to breathe life into them again.

Identifying with Christ

Why We're Called to Lament for Our Suffering World

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22, one of the greatest laments in the psalms, begins with this poignant cry of Christ on the cross. The Jews who had gathered at the foot of the cross (whether to mourn or to mock) would have heard these first few lines of the psalm and been led by their theological training to recall the psalm in its entirety. It is as if Jesus spoke the entire psalm as he hung in agony on the cross—proclaiming both his profound identification with a suffering world and the unlikely victory his suffering would produce.