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September 1992

Oh, for a Thousand Tunes: A bicentennial tribute to Lowell Mason (1792-1872)

Although the name Lowell Mason may be unfamiliar to many his hymn tunes are among the best known and best loved in our hymnals. It was Mason, for example, who composed the stately, reverent melody for "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and the majestic strains of "Joy to the World."

Third Sunday of Advent: The Desert

Old Testament: Isaiah 35
Psalter: Psalm 146:5-10
Epistle: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-ll

A merry Christmas in the Mojave Desert seemed to be a contradiction in terms to me! My favorite aunt repeatedly assured me of the beauties and the positive benefits that could be gained from hving in the desert. But I left the desert decidedly unconvinced.

Book: Voices: Native American Hymns and Worship Resources

The Native American Hymnal and Worship Resource Committee. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1992.94pp. Available for $9.95 from Discipleship Resources, PO Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202; (615) 340-7284.

Two publications dealing with Native American worship resources were published this year. The first, entitled Voices, is a product of the United Methodist Church, a leader among denominations in providing resources from many different traditions. Marilyn M. Hofstra, of Choctow and Chickasaw heritage, directed the project.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: The Sign

Old Testament: Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalter: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Epistle: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

God is a sign painter! One of God's favorite hobbies is putting up signs in places obvious and hidden, clear and oblique, that reveal the "outskirts of his ways." The signs tell people that God is present with us.

Book: Hymn Texts in the Aboriginal Languages of Canada

Hugh McKellar. Published by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, 1992. 56 pages. Available from The Hymn Society, Texas Christian University, PO Box 30854, Fort Worth, TX 76129; (800) 843-4966.

Christmas Eve or Day: The Child

Old Testament: Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalter: Psalm 96
Epistle: Titus 2:11-14
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14

Isaiah concludes the eighth chapter by describing a darkness so deep that people who experience it will have no dawn. Everywhere they look they will see distress and the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into deep darkness.

Imaging Tomorrow: Living with Isaiah in Advent and Christmas

It was Heidi's fourth birthday, and we had planned to go on a family outing to Playland in Rye, New York. As we sar-dined ourselves into the "birthday mobile," we were in a festive mood, ready for a day of fun and celebration. But just as we were about to pull out of the driveway the telephone started its ominous j anglings. The kids were armed with ready wisdom, "They'll call back— c'mon, Dad." But Dad didn't listen; the Calvinist tug was too intense.

First Sunday after Christmas: The Mother Eagle

Old Testament: Isaiah 63:7-9
Psalter: Psalm 148
Epistle: Hebrews 2:10-18
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23

Isaiah remembers, and as he does, the prophet begins to stammer. His reason yields to praise, and remembered history turns to worship. There are times, however rare, when words, concepts, and systems are not grandiose enough to be the cradle of the gift.

Musical Resources for Singing Scripture

Metrical Psalms

A New Metrical Psalter, Christopher Webber, Church Hymnal Corporation
Psalter Hymnal, CRC Publications, 1987
Rejoice in the Lord, Eerdmans, 1985
Trinity Hymnal, Great Commission Publications, 1990

Singing Scripture: Suggestions for singing the readings for Advent and Christmas

Singing Scripture has always been a cherished part of Reformed worship. In fact, most of the early Reformed Christians limited their singing to scriptural texts, concentrating on the psalms. John Calvin himself said, "Singing [the psalms] we may be sure that our words come from God just as if he were to sing in us for his own exaltation."


Appreciates the Resource

Reformed Worship is a thought-provoking, inspiring, practical, visionary publication. Thank you.

Ellen Gabrielse
Framingham, Massachusetts

RW Instructs and Inspires

Light One Candle...: Examining the role of ritual and symbol in worship

The worship committee has a fine idea. Several other churches in the area have used an Advent wreath for years, and the committee thinks it's about time that John Knox Church does so as well. They construct the wreath, purchase candles in appropriate liturgical colors, and invite a family to read the Scripture and light the candle on the first Sunday of Advent.


Baptism Banner

Faye Fredericks, member of Georgetown Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan, designed this baptismal banner based on Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:4, where parents are instructed to teach the truths of God to their children and to their children after them. The banner is constructed with solid colors of the rainbow for each figure. The figures represent the successive generations, beginning with purple at the bottom, moving through navy blue,

The Canticles of Christmas: Singing the songs of Zechariah, Mary, the angels, and Simeon.

We've all heard them—those words that strike fear in the hearts of choir directors everywhere: "And what are you doing for Christmas?" Each year, toward the end of the summer, we start struggling with the annual problem. Our minds begin sorting through sundry ideas and possibilities, recalling the successes of Christmases past, searching for just the right combination of music and the Word.

On the Way to Bethlehem: Adapting the children and worship approach for a Christmas service

Every Christmas Sunday at Pultneyville Reformed Church we do away with the sermon. In its place, we have our children present the Word of God.

The Advent of Iron John: Frank Knol urges Willowhaven church to focus on a ministry to men

Pastor Buntz was out of town—strategically, Mona Lefers thought—at a seminar on relationships held, of all places, in Las Vegas. Diane Kramer (the "other woman," as Butch Vermulm liked to call her) had season tickets to the symphony, so she was absent too. Grady Fisher had tried, but failed, to get out of his daughter's Girl Scout banquet.

God, Our Rock: A service celebrating God's faithfulness.



Welcome and Prayer

Hymn: "Hours and Days and Years and Ages"
[PsH 443]

The Lord Is My Rock

Scripture Reading: Psalm 62

Meditation (1)

Family Choir: "God Is Like a Rock" (2)
[Natalie Sleeth]

Hymns (by congregation):

"Built on the Rock"
[PsH 503 TH 351]

"God Is My Rock"
[PsH 610]

Come to the Light: Epiphany

Why Celebrate Epiphany?

Epiphany seems particularly appropriate for a gentile church. It reminds us that God did something quite remarkable: he extended his grace to those who were originally outside the covenant. As Paul reminds the Eph-esians, we were aliens and strangers, but Christ made us part of the new Israel.

When in Our Music Christ is Glorified

The following brief song services were prepared for the Sundays after Epiphany in 1993; the topics were chosen to correspond with the Revised Common Lectionary (Year A) for that season. These song services could be used in the morning service during this portion of the church year, as part or all of a second-service hymnsing, or at any other time in Christian worship (independent from the use of the Lectionary). Selections not in your hymnal could be sung by a small group taught by rote and sung from memory, or printed in the bulletin (with proper copyright permission).

A Singing Community: Worship in the Navajo tradition

On the Navajo reservation, many congregations are small. People know each other well, and the informal worship service flows naturally into a fellowship meal. Families worship together, feeling no need for nurseries or childrens worship. If it gets a little noisy, the minister just speaks a little louder!

The service that follows is told in narrative and outline form. See the sidebars in this article for specific examples of prayers and other liturgical elements common to a typical Navajo Christian Service.

First Sunday of Advent: The Mountain

Old Testament: Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalter: Psalm 122
Epistle: Romans 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44

Second Sunday of Advent: The Branch

Old Testament: Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalter: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Epistle: Romans 15:4-13
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

Two years ago a freak tornado whirled its way through Wyckoff, New Jersey. "This never happens here; this isn't Oklahoma," said the old-timers. Many of us shared that sentiment. What can you count on anymore when even weather patterns, that normally don't produce such destructive entities, prove unreliable?