Few seem to realize that one of John Calvin’s major disputes during his time in Geneva was his advocacy of celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. He was adamant, but the consistory—and the city council, who governed church-related matters—wouldn’t agree. Calvin was even thrown out of Geneva for a time—he went to Strasbourg, France—but he came back. He continued to advocate for communion every Sunday but was still resisted.
Articles in this issue:
Each Sunday, more than a thousand people of varied ethnicities and languages come from all over metro Manila, the Philippines, to worship in the presence of God’s people at the Union Church of Manila. They come from a range of economic and social backgrounds, but each Sunday morning and during the week they unite to share what they have in common and to participate in the work of God in the Philippines.
For some time, I’ve thought about how to portray music visually. How does one art form honor another? What could be done in our spaces to reflect the prominent position that music has in our worship?
What first comes to mind, of course, are clichés: a huge banner featuring a loopy treble clef. Flocks of brightly colored eighth and sixteenth notes soaring off into the sky. That sort of thing. Nothing wrong with these, mind you (you may have one of these hanging in your church this very moment!), but I was looking for something a little more dramatic.
The following litany was used for the installation of Rev. Robert Drenten as Minister of the Word at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. The litany includes several prayers, after which members of the congregation came forward and placed gifts symbolizing the prayers in a clear plastic tub. We encourage you to adapt the symbols and litany to reflect your own context.
Q: If a call to worship is really about hearing God call us, then what about using as a call to worship one of the many psalms that originated in a liturgical setting where people were calling each other to worship? Who is speaking to whom? Must the call to worship come from Scripture? Does it necessarily have to be short or can a choir sing an anthem for the call to worship?
I have been leading worship at my church for about a year and a half. My partners are a talented praise band that includes a number of professional musicians. I am learning how to respond when people tell me they liked the music, and I usually take the opportunity to express my appreciation for the others who make my amateur fiddling and singing seem better than it is. But one Sunday morning, a remark from a member of my congregation really started me thinking.
Choosing the right choral music has got to be the single most challenging task I have faced in the 35 years I have directed church choirs. I dread the idea of buying sixty copies of something that will not work well in the service; and I don’t want to spend even twenty minutes rehearsing an anthem that will not be edifying for the body of believers.
I remember my very first attack of goosebumps. I was thirteen, maybe, one raspy voice in a middle-school choir festival a half century ago in a small town in Wisconsin, dozens of kids drawn from regional schools. The music that did it was J. S. Bach—“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” For almost fifty years I’ve not been able to hear that piece without being zapped back into that pimply choir because I was seized so chillingly—heart, soul, mind, and strength—by the beauty of that moment.
It occurred to me the other day that lining up my rather small CD collection in order of purchase date could provide an interesting study about my life.