All Saints’ Day (also called All Souls’ Day) is a part of the church calendar that dates back to the early church. Originally a day was set to commemorate the life and death of each martyr. As the number of martyrs increased, a special day was set aside to remember these many saints and their commitment to Christ and his church—a commitment that led to their suffering and death. More recently this service has also come to include a time of reflection and thanksgiving for friends and loved ones who have died in the past year.
Articles in this issue:
- A Conversation with Albert Aymer, Nancy Beach, Brian McLaren, Eugene Peterson, Larry Sibley, John Witvliet, Joyce Zimmerman
A colleague was asked point-blank at a workshop recently, “Have changes in worship in the last generation been good or bad?”
The short answer may be yes.
A longer answer was given at a day-long seminar at the Calvin Symposium on Worship 2006. The seminar featured a panel of prominent worship leaders who had probably never been together in the same room before. They reflected in very different ways on one of the central topics in twentieth-century North American religion: changes in worship practices.
Litany for a Service of Installation
This litany was prepared by Jerry Kramer for the installation service of copastors at the beginning of their ministry. The litany could easily be adapted for the installation of one pastor. Congregations could also consider different symbols appropriate to their situation.
- Canticle of the Turning: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; O God, Beyond All Praising
Canticle of the Turning, a Setting of the Song of Mary
Perhaps the sundry lyrical settings of the angel Gabriel’s Ave Maria have conditioned us to expect Mary’s response to be parallel in its tenderness. Indeed, many hymnic settings of the Magnificat pick up on the reflective character of the text, and rightly so. There is introspection here. But there are also other possibilities.
Planning worship for a special church celebration calls for a tricky blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary. On the one hand, you want the occasion to feel special and festive, to involve former members and special presenters. On the other hand, you want worship to represent your church’s regular worship life—which is what you’re celebrating in the first place.
As people entered the church, they were given a leaf-shaped piece of paper and a pen. During the service they were asked to write a thanksgiving item on the leaf; during the offering they were invited to place their leaves on an artificial “tree” spiked with lots of nails for hanging the leaves.
I prepared this resource to provide some material that might make Reformation Sunday more relevant, particularly for youth. It was first prepared for Canadian Presbyterian congregations using The Whole People of God Resource 2000 to 2001 (Wood Lake Books) and is slightly adapted here. The dialogue can be used as a group activity for older children and youth or as a presentation in worship. Encourage participants to expand and/or modify the social activist’s part, using their own words or quotes from recent newspapers and newsmagazines.
It started quietly enough. In 1903, acting on two overtures calling for the preparation of worship forms for congregational use, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA voted to form a committee to prepare a “Book of Simple Forms and Services.” The book was to be firmly rooted in Scripture and Reformed usage, avoid ritualism, embody sound doctrine, and enable a fuller participation of the people in the worship of God.