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September 1990

Worship Born of Prophets, Poets, and Artists

The worship life of the church traditionally begins with Advent, the season in which we anticipate and then celebrate the birth of our Lord, the long-awaited Messiah. This year Advent begins on December 2, and this issue is filled with ideas and resources that will help you plan your worship services for this significant time in the church year.

Again, we are indebted to people who send us their bulletins, their ideas, and sometimes entire articles.

Book: What Language Shall I Borrow?

Brian Wren. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1989,264 pp., $18.95.

Getting the Story Off the Page: Advice on Putting Life into Scripture Reading

Leaving a service of worship one Sunday, I heard a woman say to her husband, "I got more out of the Scripture reading than I did from his sermon." I was pleased that she found the Scriptures meaningful—especially because I've so often heard the opposite: "Why are the Scriptures so dull?" "Scripture readings bore me." "I like to get to the real stuff when the preacher starts to preach."

Book: How Shall I Sing to God?

Brian Wren. Carol Stream IL: Hope Publishing Co., 60 minutes, $29.95

In How Shall I Sing to God? Brian Wren provides us with a thought-provoking introduction to contemporary hymnody, an introduction to his own visionary hymn writing, and an intriguing discussion regarding language appropriate for worship.

The Unfolding Drama: Our Worship Has Always Included Dramatic Elements

Picture the following scenario, a drama most of us have witnessed many times:

The elders move to the front in smooth, orderly motion while worshipful music plays quietly in the background.

The pastor climbs down from the podium, signaling a change in scene and mood. He moves behind a table, ceremoniously covered with crafted utensils filled with bread and wine.

The pastor opens the Bible—a strong symbolic action. He reads to the congregation.

Book: Worship Vessels: Resources for Renewal

F. Russell Mitman. Cambridge: Harper and Row, 1987, 213 pp. $17.95

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Using texts from Handel's Messiah in an Advent communion service


The Opening

The Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight; behold, he is coming, rejoice greatly, shout in triumph.

Our king is coming. He is the righteous Savior, He shall speak peace unto the nations.
(Malachi 3:1; Zech. 9:9-10)

Book: Of Primary Importance: Information, Preparation and Application, A Practical Guide for Directors of Younger Elementary Choristers

Helen Kemp. Garland, TX: Chorister's Guild, 1989, 91 pp., $12.95

It is easy to catch Kemp's enthusiasm for teaching young choristers as you read this manual for directors of younger elementary choirs. Her many years of experience in children's music result in practical and clearly presented suggestions.

Not Just for Looks: Practical Suggestions for Choosing Appropriate Visuals for Worship

In our daily environment we are assaulted by visual images. Most of them are related to our daily "needs" and call attention to what we "could" have or "should" have. When I take a ride, read a newspaper or magazine, or sit down to watch a movie, I am bombarded by such reminders. But when I attend church, I seldom see any kind of visual that reminds me of my spiritual "needs."


Banner Fellowship

When our church (Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, St. Thomas, Ontario) started worshiping together four and a half years ago, we had two problems: First, the gym we met in reminded us more of a tightly closed shoe box than a sanctuary. Second, our teenagers "didn't have any place to go" after worship while parents enjoyed coffee and attended classes.

Hymn of the Month

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Since all four Advent Sundays fall in December this year, it's only appropriate that we focus on an Advent hymn for this month. "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" has long been a favorite of mine, especially when set to the tune STUTTGART.


Master Arts Festival

October 5-6,1990, Grand Rapids, MI. For pastors, drama directors, worship coordinators, and other creative church leaders. At Calvin College. Contact: Master Arts Company, P.O.Box 9336, Grand Rapids, MI 49509, (616) 531-5020.

Poet of Faith: an Interview with Brian Wren

We talk with Rev. Brian Wren in the subdued luxury of the Manor House "parlor" on the Calvin College campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "It's a room that tells you, 'We don't have to work,'" Wren remarks smilingly.

From Mourning to Exultation: Seven Themes for Advent and Christmas with Art for Bulletin Covers

If you've ever waited for something important to happen, then you understand the significant feelings surrounding the Advent season. Advent is like an expectant mother waiting to give birth. She and her husband have spent months, perhaps even years, talking about and planning for this child. Advent is the last stretch of the planning. The time is coming close now. Is everything ready? Suitcase packed? Doctor and hospital phone numbers close at hand? Is it time? Now?

Festival of Lessons and Carols

A celebration of the Christmas story


The People of God Gather

Prelude: "In Dulci Jubilo"

Opening Hymn: "Hark, the Glad Sound!"
(PsH 335, RL 251, TH162)


To Prepare for the Lord's Coming

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7

Lighting of the Advent Candle

New Testament Reading: 2 Peter 3:10-13

Choral Music for the Season: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany


Jean Berger, "The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee," Augsburg 11-1264. Moderately difficult SATB (some unusual melodic intervals in each voice part); well worth the effort.

Paul Bunjes, arr,, "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People" (GENEVAN 42), Concordia 98-1388. Bunjes' setting of the Genevan chorale, simply harmonized, with an active accompaniment for strings, organ, or combination. (Works well with two violins and organ if a quartet is unavailable.) Easy SATB.

The Light of the World

A candlelight service that demonstrates Light overcoming darkness

(Please pick up a candle as you enter for worship)

A Dark World

Organ Prelude and Personal Meditation

Welcome and Announcements

Our Prayer for God's Presence: "O Lord, Come Quickly"
(PsH 141)

God's Greeting

Our Response: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" (refrain only)
(HB 170, PsH 340, RL 195, TH 151)

The Voices of Christmas

Hearing the Christmas story from the saints of all ages


Organ Prelude and Personal Meditation

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship: (from Isaiah and John)

Arise! Shine! for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you!
(Isaiah 60:1)

I Recommend..: Worship Leaders List Their Favorite Planning Resources

Reformed Worship asked eleven pastors and worship leaders which resources they use most often when planning worship services. The group included eight pastors, one college professor, and tivo seminary professors, representing three denominations: the Christian Reformed Church , Reformed Church in America , and Presbyterian Church (USA) The variety and diversity of responses was interesting. Only a few resources were named by more than one person; they are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Our Church is Cruisin'

Pastor Kirk really knows how to pack 'em in.

I mean like where does it say in the Bible that church has to be boring? People act as if somewhere in Leviticus or something it says that they've got to tiptoe to the temple dressed in sackcloth and ashes. You know what I'm saying—long faces, dead silence. But then what about David? I mean you read about David dancing it up so wild his wife got steamed!

Another Year is Dawning

Prayers, litanies, and ideas to mark the coming of a new year



Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, closes each year by including the Roll Call of the Saints and the Roll Call of the Newborn in its worship liturgy.

Woman at the Well

A Scripture Drama from John 4

[Jesus enters and sits on a stool draped with a dark cloth (to look like a rock) near the well.]

Narrator: He came to a town in Samaria named Sychar,
which was not far from the field
that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob's well was there,
and Jesus, tired out by the trip,
sat down by the well.

[Woman begins to enter and will sit on well seat.]