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March 2014

The Rest of the Story

While I was talking with someone the other day, she spoke of the “time collapse” of the Christian year. “Every year, Christ is born, then dies, and rises again. The next year he is born, then dies, and rises again. . . .”

Why do we rehearse the entire gospel message year after year? We do it because we are people who forget. We need to be reminded of the truths the Christian year contains. We need to be reminded of the grace of God’s story and of the fact that we are God’s beloved, saved, and redeemed children.

After Easter

A Series for Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday—and Beyond

The liturgical church year and the “programmatic” church year often feel most at odds in the weeks when we celebrate Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. In the midst of children’s and family ministries winding down for the season and church staff and worship leaders beginning to sigh with relief after the holy (and blessed) busyness of the Easter season, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of these important Sundays of the church year and the unique opportunities for teaching and worship they afford. Additionally, these days hold big theological themes. It’s easy for us to get lost in amazement, wonder, and confusion instead of finding ways to make these themes relevant to our own lives and for the whole world.

The liturgical church year and the “programmatic” church year often feel most at odds in the weeks when we celebrate Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. In the midst of children’s and family ministries winding down for the season and church staff and worship leaders beginning to sigh with relief after the holy (and blessed) busyness of the Easter season, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of these important Sundays of the church year and the unique opportunities for teaching and worship they afford.

After Easter: Prayer Stations

Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sundays deal with heady theological stories and themes, so it’s especially important to reinforce them in concrete ways that interact with our senses. We learn best when not just our brains but all of our human capacities are engaged.

Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sundays deal with heady theological stories and themes, so it’s especially important to reinforce them in concrete ways that interact with our senses. We learn best when not just our brains but all of our human capacities are engaged.

Spirit at Work

Two Reflections

Editor’s Note: These reflections are reprinted with permission from a regular online series written by Dale Cooper. “Coop’s Column” can be found at http://worship.calvin.edu/coopscolumn. —JB

Songs for Ascension and Pentecost

Make new friends but keep the old. . . . These songs for Ascension and Pentecost are presented in pairs: a newer song attached to one that is well known. Your congregation might appreciate having the company of a familiar hymn while they work to learn a new song. The Pentecost songs are arranged to give you the option of weaving the pair together, moving back and forth between the two songs as best fits your particular worship situation.

Make new friends but keep the old. . . . These songs for Ascension and Pentecost are presented in pairs: a newer song attached to one that is well known. Your congregation might appreciate having the company of a familiar hymn while they work to learn a new song. The Pentecost songs are arranged to give you the option of weaving the pair together, moving back and forth between the two songs as best fits your particular worship situation.

With Joy Her Spirit Sings

The Music of Rae E. Whitney

This is the first of several articles by David Music spotlighting contemporary American hymn writers.

Confronting Constraints

Q

I love RW, but I attend a congregation with minimal resources, minimal talent, and minimal openness to creativity. It is my congregation and I don’t want to leave. But my frustration is growing. How can I manage the gap between my ideals and reality? Is there anything I can do to help expand our vision?

Q

Writing Your Own Psalm

O God, you are like coffee to me!

. . . I thirst for you in the morning when I wake.

. . . Your warmth continues to travel through me.

. . . I return to you throughout the day and get renewed and refreshed.

The Gift of True Strength

A Sermon Series Based on 1 Samuel 1 to 12

With Eyes Open

A Blessing for a New Pastor

When a new pastor arrives at a church, it is a time of transition and celebration. Though obviously this pastor will impact most the gathered congregation, his or her ministry and leadership have ripple effects out into the community. This litany was written by council members from a sister church and read during a service of installation.

How to Pray for Your Pastor

Who pastors your pastor? The answer, all too often, is “No one.” But, like the rest of us, your pastor needs spiritual support. Your pastor needs people to lift him or her up in prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. If you or a group of people in your church would like to support your pastor in prayer, here are four “need categories” to consider.

Listening with the Ears of Your Heart

Worshipping with Lectio Divina

Our Sunday evening worship service has experienced a mini-revival.

Though Sunday evening services are part of our church tradition, it appears they’re on the decline. At least, that was the case with our evening service several years ago. The numbers were down to ten or twelve people. And we wondered what to do.

Confession, Assurance, and Incarceration

Prison and Public Worship

Sunday worship can be a strange thing. What we do and say in church can seem a little bizarre, both to those who haven’t missed a Sunday service in twenty years and to those who are warming a church pew for the first time.

Continuing God's Story

A Wedding Ceremony

This wedding liturgy sets the bride and groom’s story in the context of God’s story. The entire ceremony took about 1 hour 15 minutes total. To help you with your planning, estimated times are included in parentheses behind each element.

If you wish, you may use multiple readers for the readings, which is a wonderful way to include children in the ceremony. Images, song lyrics, and congregational readings (which are not included in full here) were projected on a screen.