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March 2016

The Rest of the Story

A friend of yours says, “You have got to read this book! I’m halfway through it, and it is amazing. The drama, the plot, the unexpected surprises. It really is out of this world . . . but I’ve decided to stop reading it.”

Say what?!

Reconciliation and Pentecost

A Worship Series

"It is the Spirit that creates the new humanity where God’s dwelling will be forever.” —Herman Bavinck (in Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, Baker Academic, 2011)

The church was founded on the bedrock of reconciliation—the reconciliation of God to humanity and the reconciliation of humanity to one another. This is evident in three significant ways:

Breath, Wind, Fire, Dove

Images of Pentecost

Combining words and images is a powerful way to communicate the gospel. For Pentecost in 2011, we designed a service focused on four symbols of Pentecost: breath, wind, fire, and dove.

Todd selected Scriptures and wrote reflections for each image. Amy prepared for a visual presentation of the four symbols to unfold during the readings. Choral music and hymns were selected to follow each reading, highlighting each symbol.

Singing the Sovereignty of Christ

The coming liturgical season is one in which we reflect on the mystery of the Easter event, witness Christ’s ascension, and participate in the stirring day of Pentecost. It is a time focused on the departure of the Christ, whose earthly ministry turned lives and prophecies upside down and who reigns as the sovereign Lord of all.

The Power of Language

The Implications of Pentecost for Global Worship

We are very grateful to Dr. Amos Yong for allowing us to share his insights with you. This article, based on a talk given at the National Worship Leader Conference in Dallas, Texas, on October 2, 2015, is a bit more academic than most that are found in Reformed Worship. But after reading it you will be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the Pentecost event and its implications for our lives and worship today. —JB

A Word to the Wise

A Series on James' Letter to the Church

At Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, MI, in the summer of 2014, our preaching pastor, Rob Peterson, planned a worship series on the book of James entitled “A Word to the Wise: Exploring the Themes in James.” The book of James is full of godly wisdom, wisdom that is needed today especially in order to develop Christian maturity and a healthy Christian community. Some of the questions addressed in James include these:

God Gives Us a Song

The Hymnal of Mary Kay Beall and John Carter

Mary Kay Beall and John Carter are a husband-and-wife hymn-writing team. Mary Kay was born on August 16, 1943, in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University (B.M.), Ohio State University (M.A.), and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio (M.T.S.). An ordained minister in the American Baptist Church and United Church of Christ, Mary Kay and her husband have served in a variety of positions in numerous churches of different denominations.

Article Resources: 

The Super-Concentrated Practice of Public Worship

Q

I have recently been reading some literature that speaks about public worship as a “concentrated form of Christian practice.” I like the sound of that phrase, but I can’t define or explain it. Can you help me?

A

Praying the Lord's Prayer . . . Without Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

It’s safe to say that most Christians have memorized the Lord’s Prayer. But when we do so, we often become attached to the wording of a specific Bible version. As a result, some of us find it distressing when we hear a different reading of the Lord’s Prayer. When planning worship you might have been surprised by the strong response of some when you use an unfamiliar version. “What next?” they say. “Is nothing sacred?”

The Ministry of Song

A Study of Ephesians 5:18-20

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Psalm Prayer and Blessing for Our Children

A Psalm Prayer and Blessing for Children

Note: Words in bold type indicate congregational response.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold
against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
(Ps. 8:1b-2)

Golden Bowls

Golden Bowls

At Third Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, when planning a series on prayer the imagery of Revelation 5:8 captured our imaginations. The elders were before the Lamb, each holding a harp and “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

To a Faithful Choir Member

It is getting near the end of the school year, which also seems to mark the end of choir rehearsals and other regular rehearsals to prepare for worship. As you think of the many people involved with worship over this past season, consider how you might recognize the gifts they have given the church. One idea is to write them a letter, maybe even publishing it in your church’s newsletter. Roger Hicks has provided this one for the faithful choir member.

Dear Choir Member,