This year we commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, commonly associated with Martin Luther nailing ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. The movement unwittingly launched so long ago has ended up having enormous influence over the past five centuries. Politically, socially, economically, culturally, and in many other ways, the Reformation has helped to mold the world we live in today.
It has sometimes been suggested that we might be better off if we would forget the past and move on. It seems that the more painful, the more complex, or the more challenging the memory, the more quickly we are encouraged to “let bygones be bygones,” to “get on with life,” to “let it rest.” But rarely are those same misguided words of advice offered when memories are pleasant and joy-filled.
It’s been five hundred years since the Protestant Reformation, a good time to remember the new ways of singing the psalms in the sixteenth century that now, however, seem very old. But the psalms are so much older! The oldest psalm, Psalm 90, which we sing as “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” was probably written by Moses.
The reception of the Protestant Reformation in the United States Latino and Latin American church is a sweet agony. On the one hand, there is the continuity of missional passion, while on the other hand, there are discontinuities in the theological heritage. Still, the Latino church continues to grow rapidly as more people confess “Jesús es el Señor.”
There is much to learn about art and its relationship to the Christian faith by studying the art of Sandra Bowden and reflecting on her own journey as a Christian artist.
Bowden has spent a lifetime creating art inspired by her explorations into the origins of our Judeo-Christian religious traditions. For more than forty years she has been on a journey of discovery deep into the mysteries of the Christian faith. Through her art she explores how image, text, and language can be used to bring ancient wisdom of the past into the present moment, making history alive and relevant.
What profound needs we face in the world! How few of them we ever hear about in worship, in spite of dozens of remarkable Christian agencies and organizations that are responding to them! How can we change that?
Family Worship. Ask for a one-word response to the idea of worshiping together as a family, and the responses are telling: “Intimidating.” “Impossible.” “Important.” “Covenant.” “Bible.” “Wish.” “Regret.” And“How?!”
The “How” of Family Worship
How, indeed! Four years ago we were asked to work together to create a prayer book that could help families―—even families with young children!— worship together.
Some of us know people who are highly enthusiastic, complimentary, and positive. These are not bad traits! But sometimes such people are so lavish with their praise about every sermon they hear, every restaurant meal they eat, every movie they see that eventually we come to wonder about their judgment and just how valuable getting a compliment from such a person really is. If you are on the receiving end of a “That was a great sermon, pastor!” comment at the church door, you want to believe it.
This litany is adapted from one I wrote for our worship gathering on the Sunday of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. The litany draws from the 1 Chronicles 16 account of David arranging musicians, priests, and others to praise God after the ark of the covenant had returned to Jerusalem. The celebratory context and the involvement of a wide range of voices and instruments encourages us to include multiple voices and instruments in our own thanksgiving celebrations.
(Note: All Reader parts come from 1 Chronicles 16:8–36, NIV)
In the fall of 2016, previous and current staff, advisory committee members, and ministry partners gathered to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Reformed Worship. It was a good time to remember and reflect as we walked past all 120-plus issues of Reformed Worship that were laid out. Following that celebration a few of us sat down together and shared some further reflections.
Sitting around the table were:
On my way to and from the office are two buildings I can’t get enough of. One, a two-story office building, has the most beautiful roofline of repeating round arches over a lacy infrastructure encased in walls of glass. The other is a city library built a few years back. The design is fairly modern and appears as a collection of square and cylinder blocks of brick set next to each other in the most pleasant way. I’ve heard that taking different routes to get to the same destination is supposed to keep your mind sharp but these two buildings keep me traveling the same roads.