God Gathers Us for Worship
Opening is structured as congregation is accustomed.
God Embraces Us in Grace
Reading: From Madeleine L'Engle's And It Was Good:
Reflections on Beginnings
Second Edition. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, 1994. Pew Edition, Choir Edition, Keyboard Accompaniment Edition, Guitar accompaniment Edition, Instrumental Edition.
We're not all alike.
When you open a pea pod, the peas look alike. It's difficult to tell one pea from another. Not so with people. Although to some folks all Hispanics may "look alike," we are as different from each other as one Anglo is from another. Not only are Mexicans different from each other, but Mexicans are different from Cubans, who are different from Puerto Ricans, who are different from Guatemalans.
God Gathers Us for Worship
Opening is structured as congregation is accustomed. Songs should be celebrative. Include the song "And Jesus Said," by Gloria Grindall and Joy Paterson (see RW 41, p. 32). Include prayers of the people in this section.
God Invites Us to a Party
Prayer for Illumination
Scripture: Luke 15:1-32
Sermon: "It's Party Time!"
He calls himself "Pedro" even though he's not Spanish but Anglo—-from the John Lennon tin-rims to the half-baked goatee and turtle-neck to the gray felt fedora he's not without, even in church. But I can live with that. I'll you there are some in Riverside that can't, but live with a hat. Our own kids have been sporting caps for a decade.
Characters: Younger Daughter, Elder Daughter, Mother, Bartender/Diner, Neighbors, Interrupter
Props: Textbooks, apron, bottles and glass, table settings, food scraps, bar stool, desk, knapsack, suitcase
Note: In week one, use the script as printed below. In week three, add the two shaded portions of script included at the end of the drama and indicated in the script.
[Mother and two daughters go to center platform, one on each side, mother's arms on their shoulders.]
The pattern of fall thanksgiving services for the harvest is well established in most North American churches. Less often observed is an even older tradition of springtime prayer services around the time crops are planted. But interest is growing again for spring services of intercession, which provide a counterbalance to fall thanksgiving services.
LOVED THE COLOR
Your December issue of RW  came yesterday, and I have found myself devouring it! It is a first-class journal with many aids to the pastor and the worship committees of local churches.
This series of services based on the parable of the prodigal son was developed by Rolf Bouma when he was copastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was influenced by Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son and Robert Farrar Capon's The Parables of Grace. Bouma also acknowledges contributions by others in churches where he preached this series, including copastors Leonard Vander Zee and Roy Berkenbosch at Eastern Avenue and Paul Brink and Charlotte Larsen of the Ann Arbor (Michigan) Christian Reformed Church.
Winter Park, FL, March I
Brandon, FL, March 3
Coral Gables, FL, March 10
Niagara Falls, Canada, April 4
Windsor, ON, April 5
London, ON, April 7
Guelph, ON, April 12
Oakville, ON, April 19
Toronto, ON, April 21
Oshawa, ON, April 26
Peterborough, ON, April 28
SanFrancisco, CA, May 10
Modesto, CA, May 12 Mendocino, CA, May 14
Arcata, CA, May 15
Sacramento, CA, May 17
San Jose, CA, May 19
Opening Hymn: I Greet My Sure Redeemer; Communion Hymn: Come, Let Us Eat; Closign Hymn: Lord, Dismiss Us
The long summer season after Pentecost (in many churches called Ordinary Time) offers an opportunity for congregations to become acquainted or reacquainted with hymns that, while not seasonally specific, are especially appropriate for certain times in the worship service. On these pages we will look at a hymn particularly suited to the opening of worship, a communion hymn, and a hymn for the close of worship.
I Greet My Sure Redeemer
Strange! We blow out all the stops celebrating Christmas—even though the Bible is mum on the time of year that Jesus began the humbling business of becoming our servant. And every year we fling open our church doors on Good Friday to celebrate how Jesus went through hell for us on the cross. But when Ascension Day, the crowning event of Jesus' ministry, comes around, Reformed worshipers increasingly keep the large oak doors firmly bolted.
When congregations think about changing their worship service(s), they usually start by asking two questions: "What are we going to change?" and "How are we going to change it?" Those are fair and logical questions. Yet, because of their focus on the future, they do not represent the healthiest beginning point. As strange as it may sound, the first principle of healthy worship change is to begin with the past. We need to ask, "What aren't we going to change?" In other words, what don'twe want to give up?
The idea for our hymn festival came from a concern that all too many men did not have the time to commit to a weekly choir rehearsal and demanding Sunday morning singing schedule. So in 1994 we offered a hymn festival for men! We held one rehearsal from 3:00-5:30 on the afternoon of the hymn festival; had dinner from 5:30-6:30; and the festival took place at 7:00. Over one hundred men signed up. So the next year we offered "Singing Men of Byrn Mawr II," and again over one hundred men participated.
The Sunday after Pentecost is often called Trinity Sunday in recognition that all three persons of the Trinity have now been remembered and celebrated in the great festivals of the Christian year. From now until Advent, we enter the long "Ordinary Time" or "Trinity Season" as some churches call it.
After the thrill of ordination, the reality of week-to-week pulpit ministry suddenly seemed much more difficult. Not only was I responsible for preparing two sermons a week, but I also had to develop seasonal liturgies and special Sunday liturgies, pick hymns, and, perhaps most challenging of all, lead the congregation in prayer. Besides the opening prayer, the prayer of confession, the prayer for illumination, and the applicatory prayer after the sermon, there was the congregational prayer. How do I prepare that many prayers each week? Do I write them?
Last summer Pastor Anduwatju was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the site of the 1996 meeting of the Reformed Ecumenical Council a group that includes thirty denominations in twenty-one countries. During a break in the meetings, I had the opportunity to meet him and learn something about worship in his Indonesian setting.
—Emily R. Brink
RW: Please describe your church in Indonesia.
Q. Is there biblical support for the extravagant blood image in Andre Crouch's "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power?"
A. I suppose that you are not questioning the "blood theology" of the hymn—that is the biblical teaching that we are saved by the suffering and death of Christ. Our being saved by the blood of Christ is a pervasive scriptural doctrine and is reflected in many hymns.
This past June, my home congregation learned that we would be losing one of our two pastors, the adult choir director, and the organist. They all left for good and different reasons. But the joy of Pentecost Sunday was muted when I heard that day that all three would be leaving.
God Gathers Us for Worship
Opening is structured as congregation is accustomed, with emphasis on praise for God's gracious-ness. Suggested hymns include "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" (PsH 479), "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (PsH 501, PH 466, RL 362, 363, TH 164).
God Embraces Us in Grace
Drama: The Wayward, Wanton, and Wasteful Daughter (see p. 24)