If you are an RW subscriber and are reading this article shortly after it arrived in your mailbox, you are reading this in the midst of Advent. Though it isn’t Lent as I write this editorial either, in many ways it feels like Lent, and I wonder: where is Easter?
People both inside and outside of the church often have a view of Jesus that is too small. Some of those outside the church reduce Jesus to a zealot or a moral teacher, while some Christians view him only as a necessary sacrifice or a helpful example. In order to truly worship Jesus as Lord, we need to see him in his proper place as the Son of God.
Giving up sweets, deleting social media accounts, vowing to exercise more—these are trendy Lenten practices to adopt. Kicking off the season with a paintbrush and scrap pieces of fabric in hand? That one might be less familiar.
Smocking up to get your hands messy with paint and glue may not be your go-to spiritual practice. But for a few members of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, diving deep into the creative layers of Lent is exactly how they chose to enter the season.
“When Jesus expressed his anguish on the cross with the words of Psalm 22, he highlighted one of the precious facets of the psalms in general, namely, that as songs they uniquely convey the inward depths of the soul, and especially of Christ’s soul. Not only do the psalms help shape our response to God in the trials and joys of life, they also reveal to us something of the inner life of Jesus Christ, glimpses we do not have through the gospels alone.”
(L. Michael Morales, Jesus and the Psalms)
This service was planned using art by John August Swanson as described below. More information about purchasing, rights, and the works themselves can be found at johnaugustswanson.com. A CD called “What Wondrous Love” with these images and more is available at eyekons.com/church_image_banks/cd_collections.
Few sounds are as evocative of contemplation and prayer in the Christian imagination as the sound of plainchant, the music that was born in the ancient church. Its purpose was to glorify God, lifting up the hearts of those who sing and of those who hear it. Just as the Western church has inherited a vast legacy of Gregorian chant, which is the basis of written Western music as we know it, rich traditions of cantillation as a spiritual practice also exist in many other faith traditions.
The Lord's Supper on Good Friday: YES
It had been nine months since I had arrived at Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, and I was still walking that fine line between “that’s how we’ve always done it” and “that sounds like a great idea.” This was to be the first time I would travel the Lenten journey with my new congregation, and I was looking forward to celebrating with them that capstone of our faith: Easter morning.
If you peruse the most popular Christian book titles, or if you check out what pastors and church consultants are blogging about, or if you read the titles of plenary speeches and workshops at Christian conferences, then you will quickly discern one of the hottest current topics in Christian circles: leadership. Everyone wants to be a leader. Everyone wants to be an effective leader.
Over the last few years, and particularly in the last few months, I have noticed an increase in the discussion about and desire for more times of confession in worship. There was a time when churches were discouraged from “airing their dirty laundry” during worship because confession wasn’t seeker friendly. The corporate act of confession also didn’t seem to fit with our individualistic ideas of sin and responsibility.
Looking ahead to summer, I am already frustrated by how many of our church members will be gone. Whatever happened to loyalty to a congregation? Do people realize what a burden this creates for those of us who remain at home?
“I wish the church knew how deeply God can change your life,” Mark said. His friends nodded in agreement around the lunch table, sharing a common meal of tacos and a common story of returning back to their communities after serving time in prison.
Adam Merrill Longoria Tice was born in western Pennsylvania on October 11, 1979, and was raised in Alabama, Oregon, and Indiana. He is a graduate of Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, (2002, major in music composition), and the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana (2006, M.A. in Christian formation). From 2007 to 2012 he served as associate pastor of Hyattsville Mennonite Church in Hyattsville, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.), and since 2012 has lived with his family in Goshen, Indiana.