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.
Articles in this issue:
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.
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."