What do Lent, Good Friday, Easter, the psalms, and caring for God’s creation have in common? Two things: they are all themes present in this issue of Reformed Worship, and they all have to do with living “in the tension.”
What do dead sheep, bloody doorposts, stone-ground flour, bread, and tents have in common? Each of these were visual aids that God gave to his people to draw them into a full-bodied relationship with himself.
Q:Are there ever instances in which it could be appropriate for people to celebrate the Lord’s Supper using a video feed over the Internet, especially for small rural churches in northern Canada that are separated by miles yet served by only one pastor? Could that be considered a real celebration of the Lord’s Supper?
Over the nearly sixteen years when I was preaching two new sermons every week, I dipped into the Revised Common Lectionary only sporadically. Typically I’d turn to Lectionary texts for Advent or maybe for Lent, especially if I had no fresh ideas for a sermon series. However, since coming to Calvin Seminary seven years ago, I use the Lectionary every week as the basis of the sermon-starter articles some colleagues and I have been posting on the Center for Excellence in Preaching website every Monday morning.
We all have scars, from the unsutured nicks of our childhood to long gouges left on a chest from bypass surgery, to the empty rippled space from a mastectomy. Some scars are readily visible; others are hidden and remain hidden from embarrassment or reticence.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
We all have a story to tell. But as Christians, our story is God’s story. We are called to tell our stories in order to tell “the old, old story of Jesus and his love.”
Honest faith requires expressions of lament. Most of us do not have to ponder too deeply to realize that something is wrong; the world’s not all as it should be. However, this feeling, this sense of discomfort and frustration, is not often expressed in our worship. Shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves honestly in worship, asking God the difficult questions—the ones that keep us up at night due to our lack of satisfying answers?
During Holy Week we often focus on the “red” storyline of Christ’s shed blood offered as atonement for our sins. This is the central message of the cross. However, both before and beyond the cross is a bigger, grander, “greener” story of redemption that highlights the “red” storyline even more.
This service was originally designed to be a chapel service at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan, during Holy Week, but it could be expanded into a full worship service by adding elements like a sermon, offering, and time of confession/assurance. It could also be adapted for use at any time during the year when there is an emphasis on God’s marvelous creation.
(On stage: Speaker 1 and men’s chorus.)
Here are eight worship services on the theme of creation. The general idea for the worship services was originally inspired by a seminar with Tim Brown on his book The Seven Pillars of Creation, although the worship services developed in a somewhat different direction than the book.
For each service, you are encouraged to adapt the prayers of the people to fit the needs of your congregation.
Here’s a summary of the themes and Scripture passages for each of the eight services.