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September 1993

Circle of Light: Four themes for use with the Advent wreath

Why is the Advent wreath part of our Advent liturgies? Having candles and evergreen boughs in church during this time of year is pleasant, certainly But should these things really have a place in our worship service?"

Advent is Hope: In Waiting

Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11

This too-familiar Advent reading can be interpreted as a drama. The drama requires four voices, a band of exiles, and a speaking choir. Voices 1,2,3, and 4 are gathered in a heavenly council high and near the center of the chancel. The band of exiles is visible to one side on the lower level and appears defeated. The speaking choir is opposite the exiles.

Singing the Christmas story: a service of carols from around the world

Instrumental Prelude (carol arrangements for organ and flute)

Processional: "Once in Royal Davids City" (English)
[PsH 346, PH 49, RL 201, TH 225, UMH 250, WC 161]

Welcome and Prayer

[Leader to improvise words of welcome to the congregation; then to lead in prayer:]

Advent is Hope: A New Order

Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Christians associate these words more readily with Jesus (Luke 4) than with Isaiah. Any sermon preached from Isaiah will surely proclaim Jesus as the anointed one, the Christ. But we should not rush too soon to Luke 4. We should first savor the revolutionary radical, wild announcement of the prophet, even though we will be tempted to tame it with reason and common sense.

Hymn of the Month

Child So Lovely/ Nino Lindo

One of the most pervasive Christmas folk traditions is the singing of lullabies. The Austrian "Silent Night" the Polish "Infant Holy" and the North American 'Away in a Manger" are some common examples of Christmas carols that often function as lullabies in Christmas season tableaux, church school programs, and carol services.

Advent is Hope: In God's Order

Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-11; 16

This lection is directly tied to the gospel for the day (Luke 1:26-38). But apart from that, this message from God to David marks a turning point in the history of God's people.

Running on Empty? The care and feeding of worship leaders

Have you ever thought about the importance of ministering to the minister? Caring for the elder? Leading the music leader?

Christmas is Hope: Glory to God




Greetings, favored ones, the Lord is with you.

His name is Immanuel, God with us.

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!

Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
[PsH 340, PH 41-42, RL 195, TH 208]

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7

Talk Before You Call: Questions about worship for search committees and pastors

Any congregation who has recently called a new pastor knows how complicated finding the right person can be. How can you tell if a minister's ideas of worship and leadership will match those of the congregation? What if the pastor you call doesn't feel comfortable with the style of worship and ministry that is so integral to your congregation?

We're Still Waiting: We need to anticipate the second coming while we celebrate the first

In the opening song of the musical The Cotton Patch Gospel, the chorus sings: "Somebody said, 'It's the second coming,' someone said, 'It's the first.' Somebody said, It's the best that could happen,' someone said, 'It's the worst.'"

Advent is Hope: God's promises are for people fresh out of optimism

Give or take a year, 1884 was the year Clarence Wexler founded the town that bears his name. He drifted west from Paterson, New Jersey, prospecting not for gold but for coal. Coal mines were as good as gold when they were close enough to the Boston/New York/Trenton furnaces to connect by rail, and far enough west to ensure cheap labor. So it was that Clarence Wexler settled in mid-Appalachia to begin his dig.

Let the Organ Sing! Many hymn stanzas beg for musical word painting:

When people reflect on the organ's role in worship, they think first of all of the music for preludes, offertories, and postludes. And, of course, everyone knows that organs accompany the hymns.

Book: Pew rights: For People Who Listen to Sermons

Roger E. Van Harn. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.162 pages. $14.95 (hardcover).

The sermon is a most amazing and curious entity says author Van Harn, one that preachers and laypeople alike tend to have strong ideas about. But many of our perceptions of the sermon are unbib-lical and off target.

The Remembering Tree: Using the Jesse Tree to prepare ourselves for Christ's birth

There's my apple, Mom!" We were halfway through singing the first hymn when my son's eyes caught sight of his creation. I could hear the pride in his voice. "It's for Adam and Eve," he announced. As I quieted him, I smiled to myself, remembering his wide grin as he carried his apple forward as part of the offering on the first Sunday of Advent.

Blessed by the God of Time: A service of worship and reflection

We Gather, Watching Time

Prelude and Personal Meditation

Welcome and Announcements

Our Hymn of Trust: "Like a River Glorious"
[PsH 560,TH 699]

Promise from the God of Hope: A service of praise and rededication

Beginning in Praise

Organ Prelude and Personal Meditation

Welcome and Announcements

Our First Thoughts at the New Year: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"
[PsH 475, PH 478, RL 144, TH 76-77]

Our Testimony of Praise

I will exalt you, my God and King! I will praise your name for ever and ever!

Jonah and the Ninevites: Even a whale can't compete with a swooping bat

I don't care what anybody says, I'm not writing another sermon for church this Sunday. The sad truth is, nobody in my congregation heard a word of the last one.

I've been holding forth from a pulpit for so many years I've lost track of time— I could be 80 or 90 or 150 years old, for all I know. What I do know is that after a worship service like I had Sunday last, I feel most all of Methuselah's 900 years.


I refer to the December, 1992 issue and its article by Robert Busch and Howard Hageman entitled, "Why We Call This Friday Good." When I read the meditations on the seven last words I was disappointed. My disappointment with the meditations was confirmed when I experienced the suggested worship service on Good Friday evening.


An Advent Canopy

Bob De Jonge, a member of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was intrigued by "On the Way to Bethlehem," a resource in last year's Advent issue (RW25) that adapted the Children and Worship approach to create a Christmas program. With Children and Worship leaders, he adapted that resource into a processional that opened worship each week of Advent.