When Flint Strikes Steel: An interview with Haddon Robinson on how preaching has changed in the last half century
One cold January night, I reached Haddon Robinson by phone in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he teaches at the southern campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. A professor of preaching, Robinson divides his time between Charlotte and the seminary's main campus in Boston.
The Lord's Blessing
Hymn: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (Psalm 90) PsH 170, PH 210, RL 1,TH 30
This bulletin cover and the three following were inspired by Scripture, by Pastor Homer's themes, and by the poetry of George Herbert (1593-1633) and Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672).
For this first cover, I used imagery from Herbert's poem "Love-joy":
Worship has played a big role in my life. For more than sixty years I have attended church services. Often, I confess, I was no more than a spectator— sometimes fascinated, sometimes bored. But I also remember services that moved me and even changed me. In those services I felt addressed by God, and I offered my worship with all my heart.
When RW interviewed John Bell in 1993, we described him as a "modern-day John the Baptist. From his piercing eyes down to his sandal-clad feet, he projected the intense charisma always associated with that desert prophet" (RW 27:23).
He still does. Many of you were able to hear and meet Bell this past summer at COLAM 95, the Conference on Liturgy and Musk held at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan), where he was a keynote speaker.
Are you looking for ways to bring a spirit of renewal to your worship this fall? One way to do that is to breathe new life into your congregational hymn-singing through the addition of istruments, soloists, children, concertato arrangements, reharmonizations, and antiphony.
The songs on these pages share three characteristics that might help you encourage revitalized hymn-singing in your worship this fall:
GOD GAVE US A WORLD
At the beginning of time and space,
God gave us a world.
And God filled it with the useful—
with granite, with gravity with grapes.
And God gave us minds and hands
to engineer the granite,
to probe the forces of gravity,
to squeeze the grapes.
At the beginning of time and space,
God gave us a world.
And God filled it with the beautiful—
We are off on a journey—a four-week venture into familiar and unfamiliar territory. What follows are a series of suggestions for sermons, liturgies, and bulletin covers for the month of October, beginning with World Communion Sunday and ending with Reformation Sunday. The familiar part of our journey is our chosen theme, "A Better Righteousness," suggested by the lectionary lessons of the current year (cycle A).
I preface any workshops I do on computers with a warning: if you don't already have a computer, think seriously before buying one. You will spend far more money than you imagined, and far more time than you ever thought possible fiddling with it.
Let me tell you about my friend Fou Luang. Fou Luang came to our country amid the vast exodus of refugees from Southeast Asia in the 1970s. He and his family fled from their home in Laos and from the people they loved in a hill-country tribe called the "Mien" (pronounced mee-enr). Like most refugees from those war-torn countries, Fou Luang had experienced more trauma in the weeks and months it took him to reach the U.S. than most of us will know in a lifetime.
It would be hard to overstate the enthusiasm Meredith Cleghorn brought to an idea everyone thought novel and promising, an idea Meredith herself had come up with—an idea she thought would put Bethel Church on the map for once. On good days, Meredith wanted to believe that stodgy Bethel was the turtle of the old fable, the rest of the upstart evangelical churches around them a pack of speedster rabbits.
Creator God, we give you thanks for calling us as stewards. Open our eyes to the intricacies of creation. Help us feel the textures of the world. Unstop our ears that we may hear your Word. Breathe into us the sweet aromas of life, that we may taste the fruits of your promise even now;
Even now, O God, even in Africa.
Africa. Where your church grows rapidly. Where faith is exuberant. Where a bright mosaic of culture shows the world the vibrancy of your love.
William L. Holladay. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. 365 pages.
I still clearly remember the day the idea for Reformed Worship was born—Friday, May 10, 1985, somewhere on the New York Thruway. Harvey Smit, Dave Vanderwel, and I were traveling from Toronto to Midland Park, New Jersey, during a fifteen-stop tour across North America to introduce a draft of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal, Toronto had been our tenth of fifteen "Psalter Hymnal Study Conferences."
Here's an idea I've wanted to share with other readers of RW for some time.
At Calvary Christian Reformed Church we've installed banner holders on our parking lot light poles. We coordinate the banners we hang there with the banners inside the church. The idea is to make a very visible connection between what happens inside the sanctuary and what is happening outside.
Q. What is the origin of the Christian flag, and where should it stand in relation to the American flag?
A. The idea for the Christian flag was conceived by a Mr. Charles E. Overton, apparently during an impromptu talk at Brighton Chapel in Staten Island, New York. It was first designed and constructed in 1907. The flag was initially popularized in the Methodist Church, and is used in several denominations. However, it has never received the status of being the "official" Christian flag.
WHERE'S THE BAR?
The latest issue of RW arrived in my mail yesterday. I always look forward to receiving it. It is an excellent publication and serves an important function in the Reformed church world.
I notice a shift that seems to have taken place in the last few issues. The color code on the outside edge of the magazine has been missing. What happened to it? Did it get left off inadvertently or is this omission by design?
LORD'S PRAYER BANNER
The banner committee of our church created a banner to accompany a seven-week worship series on the Lord's Prayer. The colors and stained-glass window design were chosen because they echo the windows in our sanctuary. A bulletin insert gave an explanation of the seven symbols, one for each week of the series: