Sunday, October 2, 2005, marks the sixty-ninth year that churches around the globe are celebrating World Communion Sunday. Originating in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1936, with the hope that other denominations would join in, it took only a few years before the celebration spread far beyond its origins. On this Sunday, as we gather around the Lord’s table, we are reminded of our oneness in Christ and celebrate with our fellow believers the faith and work of the Church worldwide.
Articles in this issue:
Two voices, bracketing the Bible’s witness like audible bookends, shore up the theological convictions of this article. On one side of the biblical witness is the voice of the Creator thundering into creation’s inky darkness, “Let there be light. . . .” And on the other side is the voice of the prophet gasping for breath to choke out a benediction in the apocalypse of St. John, “Blessed is everyone who reads aloud the words of the prophecy of this book. . . .”
In our postmodern society we hear a lot about the importance of narrative. There is nothing all that remarkable about that emphasis; telling stories to recount important events and pass on values and knowledge has been integral to all communities throughout history. The postmodern twist, however, is that each person is able to make up their own story and to interpret or reinterpret the grand narrative as they like. Though touted as being the key to true freedom, the end result is like trying to build a house on a sandpit—it doesn’t work.
Given expensive equipment and potential conflicts over changes in worship style, the purchase of a video projector system is often a difficult decision for churches to make. But it’s only a first step. Once installed, the Sundays keep coming and the question becomes, What next? What do we put on the screen, week after week? How can we use the screen to do more than reproduce the texts from the bulletin and songbook? How can the screen lead the congregation in its liturgical tasks rather than call attention to itself? And who will produce this imagery?
Being intentionally intergenerational in worship can sound like an overwhelming task. Indeed, it does require some time and effort. As a place to start, consider planning a service that celebrates each generation and the particular gifts it brings to the body of Christ. Doing so may jumpstart your thinking about how to draw in all generations on a more regular basis. Following are two resources that could be used in such a service.
Litany of Thanksgiving for the Seasons of Life
Every Sunday morning at 10 a.m., worshipers fill wooden pews in the sanctuary that once housed Thirty-sixth Street Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan, a Grand Rapids suburb.
Ninety minutes later, as the first group streams down the center aisle to shake hands with the pastor at the back of the church, another set of worshipers enters from doors on either side of the pulpit area.
The way in which we worship and express faith must remain supple and open to the change necessary to be heard in an changing world.
Most North American congregations are already multigenerational, and those that are not are usually intentional about not wanting to be. In multigenerational congregations, the pressing issue for leaders is not only how does the church speak to new generations, but how does the church hold together multiple generations in one time?
2/12 Afternoon Ruminations . . .
LOFT has felt so flat these past weeks, and I’m not sure what that’s about. But God is good: today Nord and I talked about his work helping students to have healthy devotional lives, and how that’s a prerequisite for healthy weekly worship. Then I found this quote while digging around some old sermon files: “We can do all sorts of things to try to generate vigor in our worship, but if we do not have fire for the Lord on Wednesday afternoon, how can we on Sunday morning?”
This litany was originally adapted from the Wellspring Worship Group, based in the north of England, by Christine Jerrett and Susan Woodhouse for use in conjunction with the “Family Tree” service described in RW 75 (p. 20). It is suitable for any service that focuses on passing the faith from one generation to the next, such as All Saints’ Day or a profession of faith. The image of light also fits well with a service on evangelism, mission, or serving.
The following list of resources is a small sampling of the growing library available on the broad topic of understanding the various generations who worship in our churches. Some of these books could be added to your resource library, others could be read and discussed in a worship committee setting. All are available from Faith Alive Christian Resources (www.FaithAliveResources.org; 1-800-333-8300).