March 2009

RW 91
Ascension/Pentecost
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • I’ll never forget my visit to see the famous leaning tower in Pisa, Italy. I had not realized that the tower was a bell tower at the east end of the church in Pisa, a separate building with bells that would peal when someone died. I actually became more interested in the building at the other end of the church—the round baptistery, a separate building dating from the thirteenth century built just for baptisms, with fantastic acoustics.

  • Paul Ryan’s article “Addressing Sexuality in Worship” (RW 85, Sept. 2007) challenges worship leaders to honestly name the sexual struggles all Christians have in the midst of a sex-saturated culture. In this article Robert Bayley continues that call to speak openly and honestly about those struggles and even to sing of them. He has written two hymn texts to help us do that. —JB

  • Declaring what we believe in the words of a creed is an important part of many worship services. It helps us express our theology and ties us to believers around the world and across the ages. When we recite something often enough, though, the words simply roll off our tongues and we don’t think about what we’re saying.

  • Use these two short worship litanies to build a bridge connecting your congregation to youth or adults who go out to serve on mission trips. Both litanies can be easily inserted into your church’s regular worship service. The first is designed to commission the group before it leaves on its trip. The second is designed to welcome them back. Read through these litanies carefully and adapt them as necessary to reflect the focus and tasks of your particular mission trip.

  • We are excited to introduce Bob Langlois to you in this issue. Bob has extensive experience in the world of technology, particularly as it relates to churches. We hope you’ll be inspired to send in specific questions for Bob to answer—whether you’re considering investing in new equipment, trying to solve a thorny techno-problem, or just want to discover the best way to use what you have. —JB

  • Twice a year at Redeemer University College we gather together for a time of extended prayer. We are a young university (established 1982), but from our inception we’ve had a strong tradition of seeking to be grounded in prayer. Our small campus includes a lovely prayer room for small group prayer, with two adjoining prayer “cells” for personal prayer. Every fall the student body organizes a 24/7 prayer week during which many students, faculty, and staff sign up for an hour each of continuous prayer.

  • In our worship we enter into a dialogue between God and God’s people—a dialogue that neither begins with our entrance nor ends with our exit. More accurately we are joining in a conversation that started long before we ever showed up. Indeed, worship is a cosmic gathering in which we are privileged to participate.

  • It probably all started in Mr. Klyn’s class. As fifth graders, we weren’t too cool yet to sing together every morning, and Mr. Klyn decided that anyone in the class who could play piano well enough would accompany that singing. He chose a tune from the Folk Hymnal for each of us newly-anointed accompanists to play the following week. I went home and practiced “He took my feet from the miry clay; yes, he did! Yes, he did!” until my parents begged me to stop.

  • Note: Multiple song suggestions are provided; choose as many as fit your worship context.

    Gathering for Worship

    “Come, All You People” SNC 4, SWM 4
    “We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise” CH 213, SNC 12, WR 651
    “Gift of Christ from God Our Father” SNC 167
    “Spirit, Working in Creation” PsH 415, WR 128

    Welcome
    [Include a brief explanation of Pentecost and its connection to global mission.]

  • Q  I always am anxious about Pentecost. I feel pressure to create a service in which people experience the Holy Spirit in an Acts 2 kind of way. Any advice?

    A  For starters, recall again the whole scope of the Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works through both order and spontaneity, both dramatic intervention and long-term formation.