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June 2016

Why Beauty

As this issue of Reformed Worship moved from concept to reality, I readily shared with people my excitement about doing an issue on beauty. This news was most often met with a quizzical look. “Beauty?” people asked. I received this reaction so often that I took a step back to rethink the theme. But then I began to wonder more about the responses themselves.

Why did the theme of beauty so perplex people? Let me suggest a few possible reasons.

Worshiping with the Psalms

The psalms allow us to say and pray pretty much anything we need to. The psalms not only allow us to say things to God and to each other, the psalms are God’s word to us.” (David Vroege, pastor of All Nations Christian Reformed Church in Halifax, NB)

Singing like David

Songs of Celebration and Lament

As I thought ahead to World Communion Sunday, Thanksgiving, and the prayers that arise around those celebrations, I began to reflect on our relationships with our neighbors, both nearby and around the world.

Strength and Beauty are in God's Sanctuary

Psalm 96 is a rousing psalm of praise calling us to worship a God whose beauty reverberates through the heavens and is mirrored in the worship of God’s gathered people in the sanctuary. Worshiping in such “holy splendor” is a testimony—a common confession that “God is Lord” over all things, all peoples, and especially over all other rival gods.

Beauty Revealed

Reconnecting Art, Faith, and Beauty into Our Common Life

Many Christians are called to be artists. For them, art is the most effective way to express their faith. Calligrapher Timothy R. Botts reflects, “As an artist, I listen to God through my eyes and I’m speaking back to him through what comes out of my hands.” In the ongoing quest of “making visible the invisible,” artists find themselves exploring the age-old notion of beauty within the context of their contemporary Christian visions.

From Brokenness to Beauty

The Parable of the Clay Pots
Members of Brookside Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., recently experienced a parable presented over several months as they journeyed from brokenness to wholeness. The congregation witnessed how jagged shards that normally would be discarded could become something beautiful and full of meaning. This is their story.

Beauty in Children's Worship Spaces

Have you ever gone for a walk with a child? Have you noticed how children take delight in little things, how they see beauty and intrigue all around them? For children, the environment that surrounds them is very important, as it either awakens curiosity and awe or dulls their senses. Likewise, worship spaces should have an awe-inducing effect on children.

Recovering the Power of Biblical Imagery

Despite the best efforts of smartphones and broadband Internet access, people still long to stand transfixed before an image of power and beauty, to walk on the beach at sunset, or to sit quietly in prayer.

Striving for Beauty in Worship

When considering this topic of beauty for Reformed Worship, Diane Dykgraaf asked people in a variety of churches to share how they strive for beauty in their worship. The pictures and responses you see here come from large and small congregations, urban and small-town churches, and people from various ethnic backgrounds. Each has a unique take on how beauty reflects who God is. —JB

How do you portray or communicate the majesty and beauty of God in your worship?

Words of Life

Cultivating the Heart to Hear

As we walk through a spiritual desert, attending to God’s voice is the surest way to recover our own. Our prayers to God are important; but his words to us are even more so. When we practice the disciplines of solitude, meditation, and silence, we grow in our ability to hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

(from Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer)

Preaching in Tough Times

The weekend of September 14-16, 2001, I was slated to be in Chicago for a seminar. However, like most previously planned events that weekend, the seminar never happened. With the horror of 9/11 that week, the airlines were still grounded and most people’s schedules were in tatters.

Commemorating the Reformation for the 500th Time

A Compelling Pastoral and Discipleship Opportunity


I am hearing a lot about ways to commemorate the Reformation, especially as we approach the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses in 2017. I am feeling a bit ill-equipped to approach this thoughtfully. What advice do you have?


That the World May Know You

The Hymns of Alfred V. Fedak

Alfred V. Fedak was born on July 4, 1953, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in organ performance and music history from Hope College in 1975, and a master’s degree in organ performance from Montclair State University. He has done additional study at Westminster Choir College; the Eastman School of Music; the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria; and the Cambridge Choral Studies Seminar, Clare College, Cambridge.

Blessing the Children

It was the first Tuesday in September, the first day of school, the day to bless the children at AnchorPoint Christian School. As the opening chapel service was coming to an end, parents and grandparents, board members, teachers, and staff surrounded the children and pronounced a litany of God’s promises over them.