Banners. Different people have different opinions about this form of liturgical art. Some folks don't like the idea of anyone being allowed to hang "just anything" in front of the sanctuary. Others are grateful that someone took the time to change an otherwise drab setting. Some people wish the banner-maker would stick to counted-cross-stitch. Others would have liked the pink a little more mauve to go with the cushions of the chairs up front.
Articles in this issue:
The night we all went caroling.
It's the second Sunday of Advent. Just before the morning benediction the pastor reminds us to dress warmly for the evening service, which is going to be held mostly outside. Outside it is 27 degrees Farenheit and snowing. But from experience we know that we will have a bigger crowd than usual this Sunday evening.
A series of resources for the four Sundays of Advent and Christmas Day
This series of Advent-Christmas worship resources is meant to provide a framework for a deeper, richer experience of the worship of our God, who in his eternal plan saw humankind in its desperate need and sent his Son, Jesus.
O IMMANUEL, we come to praise you on this first Sunday of Advent. A new year is beginning, a new year in which we eagerly anticipate the wonder of your coming among us. A new year in which to worship you, to heed your call to obedient action, to listen to your teachings. Each Advent is like seed sown in our lives. May it not be choked by the weeds of work and shopping and parties and decorating and baking. May it not be ground underfoot by the intense soil of cloying sentimentality so that it cannot survive the fierce pressures of the seasons.
This service is intended for the first service of a new calendar year or as a Watch-Night Service. Churches might use such texts as 2 Chronicles 16:9 or Hebrews 6:13-20 to emphasize God's commitment to us during the new year. Psalms and hymns are selected from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal (PH) and Rejoice in the Lord (RL). Scripture verses are taken from the NIV.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Congregation, what is your source of comfort and encouragement?
Advice on the care and feeding of the church choir
For many choir directors getting people to sign up isn't the problem. Getting them to stick with their commitment is. Choirs that are loosely organized, that don't have a clear mandate and purpose, that lack an enthusiastic and creative director, often fade away before Christmas.
A case for the missions emphasis of Epiphany
Some churches have Mission Emphasis service(s) in early spring, others in the summer, and still others in the fall. Is one time more "correct" than another? Probably not. The church always needs to be attentive to its mission character.
Sermon and hymn suggestions for Epiphany
In The Service of God: How Worship and Ethics Are Related (Abingdon, 1983), William H. Willimon says that before preachers can summon the congregation to action, "We move aside and point the people to see God who has summoned us, telling them what we see and hear… The first job of the preacher is to give them a vision so true, so concrete, so clear, so demanding, so gracious, so alluring that it evokes their most courageous response" (p. 156).