Although an infrequent occurrence in most Reformed churches, the laying on (imposition) of hands is among the most venerable of all religious ceremonies—and one that is beginning to attract renewed interest in some Christian circles. What does the imposition of hands signify? Why has it played such a minor role in the Reformed tradition? Can this ancient practice contribute anything to Reformed worship today? Is it biblical?
A Biblical Tradition
WE MEET GOD
Prelude and Processional: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," arr. M. Shaw, H. Hopson [PsH 253]
[The congregation is asked to join the choir in singing in unison stanzas 1,2, and 4 at the conclusion of the processional]
Reading: Psalm 95:1-2
Psalm 98: "Sing, Sing a New Song," arr. D. Grotenhuis [PsH 98]
Federico Machado is the pastor of The Servant of the Lord Church (Iglesia El Siervo Del Senor) in Chula Vista, California. Worship services in this church are designed to meet the needs of part of the Hispanic community in the Chula Vista area.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, our Lord.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
It's Sunday morning. All over the city Christians are leaving their homes and gathering in churches. For the next hour or more they will meet and perform a number of liturgical acts together. They will pray, sing hymns, read Scripture, listen to a sermon, and more—a stylized series of actions that we call "worshiping God."
LORD OF THE WINDS AND FIRES OF EARTH
You are the breath and the fire
with which the word of God is spoken,
The wind on which the Gospel is borne
anywhere and to anyone in the world.
It is your work and the wonder of your inspiration whenever people experience that Jesus lives.
That we follow him, that he becomes our way,
that men and women acknowledge that he is worth
all the trouble that this life can bring—
this is your enthusiasm and your power in us.
The elderly gentleman approached me determinedly from the center aisle, obviously intent on talking to me about what we had just experienced together in our evening service. With both hands he clasped mine and said huskily, tears welling up in his eyes, "Tonight, for the first time in my life, I'm proud to be the father of a mentally handicapped son."
Martin Thielen. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1989. 239 pages.
Reviewed by Ruth Hofman, a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Jon couldn't wait to hold the doll I had brought along to his home that Wednesday afternoon last December. It was one of the visuals I planned to use to help him remember his baptism in preparation for his profession of faith. As I held the blanket-clad plastic doll in my arms, I told Jon about how small he had been when his parents brought him to church to be baptized, but he didn't listen. He only wanted to hold the doll—so I gave it to him. Tenderly he talked to the lifelike load in his arms, as if it were real. He caressed it lovingly and kissed it.
Robert Webber. Wheaton, IL: Worship Resources, 1989. Three video tapes (13 sessions, approximately 15 minutes per session) with Leader's Guide and Seminar Notebook, $199.95 direct mail ($129.95 by-passing direct mail)
Copies available from: Worship Resources, Inc., 219 Franklin, Wheaton, IL 60187, telephone (708) 665-3895. Additional Leader's Guide or Seminar Notebooks, $3.00 each.
Reviewed by Linda Male, minister of youth and education at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The moment is charged with excitement and anticipation—the beginning of the most important hour of the week. The council has had their time of prayer for this worship service. The prelude is well underway. The worshipers are in their seats, and the pastor is seated on the platform. Everything is planned and prepared and ready for worship.
Leigh Eric Schmidt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. xiii, 277 pages; notes; index. $32.50.
Reviewed by Keith Watkins, professor of worship at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.
For anyone interested in hymnody, the last half-dozen years have been an exciting time to be alive. Every few months, on the average, a major North American denomination has produced an important hymnal. As most RW readers are aware, the Reformed Church in American gave us Rejoice in the Lord (1985) and the Christian Reformed Church its Psalter Hymnal (1987). Both are very fine books. But many other hymnals have also emerged. The Episcopal Church, for example, has a new hymnal—as do the American Baptists.
First Christian Reformed Church of Denver, Colorado, uses the Hymn of the Month information from Reformed Worship in a creative way. Every month the church newsletter, the Parish Pulse, includes the background information from RW on the song for that month, and a member of the church creates a Hymn of the Month poster to display in the church.
It's not easy to accept a new hymnal. We become attached to old favorites—to their rhythms, phrases, and tunes—and find it difficult to accept the new and unknown in our worship.
I was thrilled to receive my first copy of your magazine in September. I am writing in hopes that you can direct me to some resources and/or experts in an area that has been very puzzling to me.
It happened in a Christian Reformed Church one Sunday night during the intermission of a Calvin Seminary Choir program. As director of the choir, I had asked two of the seminarians to say a few words about their background and plans for ministry. First came Bruce Gritter—a young Canadian student, full of enthusiam. Then Gabriella Farkas spoke.
Protect Me, God, I Trust in You
Is it possible to get people of the Reformed faith to set aside a day for prayer and fasting?
Our elders struggled with that question last fall. Prayer they were comfortable with—after all, it's always been part of our tradition. But fasting? That sounded a little "foreign."
The council, very much on edge as they talked about it, concluded that the turmoil began when Lizzy Sibbelink visited her sister Heather up north and worshiped at Heather's church on Cutler Avenue.
On the day of Pentecost and during the following weeks of Kingdomtide, what better theme to dwell on than that of the person and work of the Holy Spirit? And what better guide than Paul's epistle to the Ephesians? Because the subject of the Spirit runs like a ribbon through this book, a series of services and sermons will emerge quite naturally as we take up this epistle, passage by passage.
ORDER FOR THE BLESSING OF SEEDS AT PLANTING TIME
OPENING OF WORSHIP
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The grace, the love, and the mercy of God be with you all.
And also with you.
Let us praise God, who plants the seeds and reaps the harvest.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.
Many churches send out the message that the morning worship service is the most important one by including most special events in that service. We do the opposite. Baptisms, professions, and our choral music ministry are usually part of the evening service. In addition, every six to eight weeks we try to schedule a special service of praise that focuses on lifting the congregation into a celebration of joy.