These four services celebrating God's creation have been designed to fit into the liturgical calendar on the Sundays between Ascension Day and the first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The services would be equally appropriate as a freestanding series on creation sometime during the summer months.
I walked with him from house to barn, conversing about the wolves he said he held in trust. After passing through the farrowing pens and past rooms of pigs and piglets, we emerged from the hog house to the outdoor fold. There, in billows of sweet fresh hay, lay resting sows enjoying their sabbath: God's creatures all.
by Don Hustad. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1993. 595 pp., $29.95.
No matter where we worship, we are faced today with the changing nature of worship. Hustad traces the history of music and worship, marking the many times in the life of the church that music and worship have undergone significant, and often painful, renewal. The context given by Hustad helps us to better understand the changing dynamics of worship today.
The Albany Synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) presented a conference in October, 1994, entitled "The Earth Is the Lord's: A Creation Celebration." The conference began Friday evening with a worship service, and continued all day Saturday with an address by Loren Wilkinson, several workshops, and three worship times—morning, noon, and afternoon. Rev. John Paarlberg, from the Office for Social Witness for the RCA, prepared the four worship services.
I choose the dove
with airy wings,
and gentle cooing
descending on me
a voice from heaven
down to my Jordan,
But tongues of fire
in this swirling place
choose me and energize
my halting flame
race to be run
praise to be won
for Someone's name.
What style of music is most appropriate for the worship service?"
If you've ever raised this question, you know how quickly it can polarize a congregation and with what disastrous consequences. During the years I have served as a pastor and a church musician, I've made the "mistake" of asking this question myself. I've learned firsthand, in the trenches, what a volatile issue church music can be.
There is no "Hymn of the Month" in this issue. Instead, we present the results of the first hymn competition held by Reformed Worship. In RW 29 (September, 1993) we announced that a number of churches in Edmonton, Alberta, had collected funds to underwrite a competition. Joachim Segger, director of music at West End Christian Reformed Church, wrote:
Character 1 (Nehemiah)
Approximately 8 minutes
This reader's theater piece is conceived for a variety of settings. The style, however, is always presentational: in other words, the action is projected out to the audience.
The sign in front of most of our churches says, "All Are Welcome." But is our worship really as welcoming as it could be? Two fairly recent (though unrelated) incidents have me wondering.
The first of these events took place a few years ago when I was just beginning a pastorate in a small town. On the edge of town was a state facility for developmentally disabled persons. Periodically, area mainline churches took turns hosting residents from the facility who were interested in attending worship.
The 930 a.m. service has ended, and the organist slips off the organ bench with her Handel and Bach pieces. Downstairs, the choir members are hanging up their robes. The director congratulates them on having sung a difficult arrangement of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." A few members come back up to the sanctuary and begin setting up for the 11:OO service.
Romy Geerlings put his feet up on the hassock and picked up the remote before he said a word about what Rosalee had just told him, quite casually, a moment before. He took an audible breath, meant itself as a reply, and then asked simply, no spin at all, "Church tonight?"
"Ascension Day," she said, her back to him, piling the newspapers and magazines on the shelf beside the TV. It was unlike her to say it that way, as if it were a mandate.
Casual in attire and casual about the time, they enter the old, two-story frame house on Indianapolis's near north side. They are at home here, and help themselves to coffee or iced tea. A mother tries to settle her small children over coloring books at the kitchen table; two guitarists confer and tune their instruments; others enter and begin animated conversations punctuated by loud laughter. But there's an absence of small talk. Almost apologetically, the host herds the ten adults into the living room.
I read, quite sympathetically, your editorial in Reformed Worship 34 (December, 1994) this week—sympathetically because I know the heart that created it longs to be gracious and inclusive, not to hurt. There is nothing unrighteous about such goals.
Q. Is it true that "All Creatures of Our God and King" has New Age ideas in it?
Stony Brook, NY March 24-25, 1995
Children and Worship Enrichment Event, with Jerome Berryman. For children's worship leaders. Contact: Sue Ellis, Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th St. SE, Grand Rapids, Ml 49512; (616) 698-7071; fax (616) 698-6606.
Seasonal Liturgy Idea Was Helptul
We have used this magazine for some years now, and the blocks of services, e.g., Lent & Easter, or Advent, have been used extensively.
Not having a pastor of our own has made this manual invaluable to us. We are able to plan blocks of services two months ahead. By providing our guest ministers with the basic services and themes well in advance, we have not had a sermon plunked in a service without each relating to the other. The cooperation from our guest ministers has been marvelous.