I was on a pilgrimage, it seemed, not fully sure of my destination. An interest in Vincent Van Gogh took my wife and me to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. On our way to Aries, in southern France, we drove to the ecumenical community of Taize to spend the weekend.
Articles in this issue:
In recent years, many pastors have changed their approach to preaching. The lectio continua method, long a cherished Reformed tradition, has been replaced by series shaped by themes or outlined by the Common Lectionary or based on the preacher's pet topics. In this article Hughes Oliphant Old argues that the lectio continua approach is as effective in today's pulpits as it was in the pulpits of the early Reformation.
As congregations in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions awaken to the possibilities of enhancing the visual dimension of worship, paraments arc becoming more common in our churches. Paraments are cloth hangings that adorn I lie pulpit mid the communion table. They usually bear the colors of the liturgicaly ear and symbols, such as a crown of thorns or a flame. Some paraments symbolize special events in the life of the church, such as a baptism or a missions festival.
Every musician knows the importance of rehearsals: great performances don't just happen. Likewise, every minister knows the importance of preparation; great sermons don't just happen either. Careful preparation and practice are essential before these and other ingredients are ready to be presented in worship.
The importance of this care is obvious. In worship, God is our true audience—and he certainly has a right to our very best. As a searcher of hearts, he knows when our performance and motivation are second-rate.
Robin MacKenzie has been making banners for seventeen years—at first as gifts for friends and family and later as expressions of faith that she could share with her larger family, the church. MacKenzie describes dark times in her life—times when she felt frightened, refected, and inadequate. Then she smiles, recalling how God led her through those dark hours to find new purpose in creating banners that reflect the faith and worship of God's people. She explains that often as she works on a banner, she finds the word or the theme is fust what she needs to refresh her spirit.
This year, 1988, marks the 250th anniversary of the conversions of John and Charles Wesley and the 200th anniversary of Charles Wesley's death. In light of the tremendous contributions these men made to Christian hymnody, RW asked Merwin Van Doornik to tell the Wesleys' story and to remind readers of some of the beautiful hymns Charles Wesley left as a legacy to Christians everywhere.
Exactly how does a worship leader prepare to lead the congregation each Sunday in worship? If my experience is typical, many leaders spend most of their time preparing the various elements of worship—such as the sermon or congregational prayer—and give little attention to preparing themselves for that majestic privilege of ushering people into the presence of God.
What strange creatures we are! We meticulously groom ourselves to meet some human dignitary but will waltz unthinkingly into the presence of the Almighty.
When I was a child, my father served on the sacraments committee of our church. That sounded like an important job to me: the sacraments were the most awe-inspiring actions I had yet experienced. No wonder I was surprised and disappointed to discover that "sacraments committee" was just a fancy name for the people who cut bread, washed dishes, and filled the font before baptism. I expected more, I guess.
In Into His Presence James De Jong describes worship as a dialogue in which God's people receive God's greeting, pardon, instruction, and blessing, as well as respond in confession, thanksgiving, and praise. Many times the music in our services has blurred this view of Reformed worship. Howard Hageman tells of a worship service he attended in which the congregation had as much music to listen to as it did to sing, and the music had little or no relationship to actions of receiving and responding.
Cory Atwood. Wilton, Conn.: More-house-Barlow, 1986, 82pp., $9.95.
Inspired by the growing use of banners in worship, many people have considered becoming banner makers. Some have succeeded. Others have hesitated, unsure of where to begin or what's involved in making a banner. Banners for Beginners offers clear guidelines that will help potential banner makers translate their ideas into banners that enhance worship.