March 2005

RW 75
Ascension/Pentecost
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Norma de Waal Malefyt (norma.malefyt@calvin.edu) and Howard Vanderwell (howard.vanderwell@calvin.edu) are Resource Development Specialists at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. This article is adapted from their new book (see box) based on many years of fruitful collaboration as senior pastor and music director at Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church, Hudsonville, Michigan.

  • 9/2

    This could be the start of something very, very good. Or not. A remarkably enthusiastic first-year student came up to me expressing an interest in being part of LOFT team—nothing unusual there. But Rebecca wants to do liturgical dance. We’ve never done dance before at LOFT. Not sure why not. OK, the chapel’s flat floor means that the sight lines are all wrong; so that’s one reason. Still, it is odd how our focus on music means the other fine arts get neglected.

  • When the Israelites were still wandering in the wilderness, before they had land, let alone crops and harvests, God instructed them how and when to give thanks for the harvests that were to come:

    Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; . . . the festival of harvest, . . . the festival of ingathering . . . (Ex. 23:14-16).

  • Have you ever noticed how often Jesus’ teachings startled people? So many of his remarks seem, at first, to come out of the blue. For example, once he stood up in the temple on a high feast day and shouted, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!” (John 7:37, NIV)

  • As the church adjusts to changes in the surrounding culture, worship leaders are faced with the challenges of new technology. How is it best used, and who should be the ones using it? Often the person with the keys to the building is put in charge of the new sound system, regardless of his or her musical/technological skills or spiritual gifts.

  • As the time for the worship service approaches, church members gather in the sanctuary, animatedly sharing stories about sick children, new babies, workplace conflicts. Suddenly the sanctuary light flickers on and off. Rather than showing surprise, parishioners take their seats facing the altar. There is no prelude. Pastor Dorothy Sparks smiles broadly as she makes the parish announcements. But the voice I hear is not Pastor Dorothy’s.

  • When we hear Scripture read in worship, it is usually in carefully chosen chunks or discrete units. The Bible, however, is one large overriding picture/story of God’s action with his people, written down over many generations. It contains hugely complex overlapping images and concepts, like a tapestry of multiple interweaving strands. The overall effect has a rich and vibrant depth, as individual elements placed next to each other bring out a whole range of associations and meanings.