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September 1994

To Us A Child Is Born: A service of Scripture, song and symbol

The traditional service of nine lessons and carols traces the story of our salvation from the disobedience of Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ. In this service, following each carol, a symbol is brought forward. (You'll find the symbols in boldfaced type in the leader's readings.) Each of these symbols recall the lesson just read and also point to our redemption in Christ.

Preparing The Way For Jesus: A Christmas drama based on Luke's gospel

Are you looking for a way to make the Scripture narrative come alive for your congregation during Advent and Christmas this year? Try a program based on one of the gospel accounts of Christ's birth. Make the experience even more meaningful by basing your Advent sermon series on the same passages.

Good News For All People: Resource ideas for the Sundays after Epiphany

Would you be surprised to find an ad in your local newspaper announcing an Epiphany service in your church?

Most of us would. Traditionally churches in the Reformed tradition have not observed Epiphany. Many of us are probably not even sure what Epiphany is all about or where the idea of celebrating it began. Although a growing appreciation of the church year has given Christians a better understanding of Advent and Lent, Epiphany still seems a bit "foreign" to some of us.

Looking for Life in All the Right Places: An Advent series based on John 1

To guide your worship during this Advent season I comend to you the prologue to the gospel John. I even have a suggestion for a series title: "A Believer's Guide to Virtual Reality".

Peppermint Christianity: Firsthand experience with a Dutch tradition

The lonely peppermint has had a rough ride in recent years as critic after critic of Reformed worship practices has pointed to the eating of peppermints in church at the onset of the sermon as either a silly habit or a nasty addiction.

Who's the Host? We may be getting carried away with Kierkegaard's analogy

I don't know who first "discovered" Kierkegaard's contribution to the nature of worship, but a lot of people have been referring to it. Here's how it goes: Imagine a worship service as a drama. Who is the audience? Who are the actors? At first glance, most would say that the congregation is the audience, and the minister is the actor. But no—Kierkegaard supposedly claims that God is the audience, the worshipers are the actors, and the minister is the prompter.

Hymns for December, January, and February

The three songs in this issue are all built on short repetitive refrains. None are in the typical hymn structure; two are simply refrains, and one is intended for leader and congregation.

One of the appeals of short refrains and choruses is that they are easily committed to memory. All three songs are short enough so that most worshipers will find themselves singing them during the week, long before the month is over. All three will also be included in Songs for LiFE, the new children's hymnal to be published this fall by CRC Publications.

Around the Church Year In an Hour: Worshiping from Advent through Pentecost

Since many congregations are still new to observing the Christian Year, a teaching service about the various church seasons can be very instructive The following service was first conducted at the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Although hymns are suggested in the service, feel free to substitute other seasonal hymns Also, whether you use more or less choir participation will depend on your local situation.

Does It Fit? Guidelines for critiquing worship space

Austere. Clean. Simple. Those are qualities we traditionally associate with a Reformed worship environment. The early Reformers, after all, eliminated many of the visual distractions for the simple, direct worship of God.

However, a visually simple environment is becoming more the exception than the rule in many of our churches. That may be due largely to our tendency to add new fixtures to our worship space without much thought as to how they blend with the existing structure and furnishings.


RW Time-Saver

Thank you for Reformed Worship. It has been an incredible time-saver for me the last few years, especially around Christmas and Easter. We used the Advent series and "Singing the Christmas Story" (RW 29) for the Christmas Eve service. (Only one problem—we never did get the banner constructed for the advent series because no one could figure out exactly how to do it. Better directions were needed.)

Dennis Kamper
Greeley CO

In The Dark About Light? Suggestions for lighting your worship space

What does lighting have to do with worship?

If your congregation is like many others, you've never given too much thought to that question. On these pages John Weygandt, a lighting professional, challenges churches to take another look at the lighting in their worship space. Although Weygandt's observations are based on his experience in a setting quite different from those in most of our churches, his reflections may well encourage even small churches to make some important changes.



In the last issue of Reformed Worship {RW 32) the song "Unto Christ, Who Loved Us" was included on page 27 without identification or permission information. That song may not be reproduced without permission. Here is the information:

Text: Revelation 1:5-6

Worship Books: The United Methodist Book of Worship

Nashville, TN: United Methodist Publishing House, 1992; 754 pp., $24.95.

This new book begins by affirming that although the Anglican, Evangelical United Brethren, and Methodist heritages all are evident in United Methodist worship, services find their unity through "the basic pattern of worship: Entrance, Proclamation & Response, Thanksgiving & Communion, and Sending Forth" (pp. 13-15).

Worship Book: Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993; 1107 pp., $30.00.

Hymnal Handbooks: The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion

Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993; 427 pp., $22.99.

This volume is Lindajo McKim's handbook to The Presbyterian Hymnal [a.k.a., Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs] (1990). As editor of the hymnal, McKim had ready access to a variety of sources as she prepared this Companion. She presents mostly the historical background of the texts and music found in the hymnal, though she also offers brief exegeti-cal or interpretive comments on the texts and sometimes a descriptive phrase on the tune or harmonization.

Hymnal Handbooks: Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal

Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1593; 940 pp., $39.95.

Carlton R. Young, primary author of this Companion also served as editor of The United Methodist Hymnal (1989) and previously as editor of The Methodist Hymnal (1966) and coedited its handbook, Companion to the Hymnal (1970) with Fred Gealy and Austin Lovelace.

Psalter: The Psalter: psalms and canticles for singing

Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1993. 432 pp., $30.00.

A new psalter for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For many, psalm singing and the Scottish heritage are already synonymous. To be sure, the Presbyterian Hymnal (1991) contains many metrical psalms in a style similar to those found in the Psalter Hymnal. But what of the psalm texts in their original prose, in unmetered flow?

Book: Bread of Life and Cup of Joy

Horton Davies. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993. 274 pages, $18.99 (paperback).

Book: Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology of Worship

David Peterson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992. 317 pp., $20.00.

The Reformed tradition has always maintained that its worship is regulated sola scriptura, by Scripture alone. Worship is thus never understood to be an act of creative self-expression, but rather an act of obedience to God. We worship God not in ways we dream up, but. in ways that God teaches us in the Word.

Worship Resource: The Music and Worship Planner, 1994-1995

David L. Bone and Mary J. Scifres. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. 140 pages. $14.95.

If you are looking for help in planning and organizing your worship services for the next year, this handy lectionary-based calendar may help you a great deal. Two pages are devoted to each Sunday from September 1994 through August 1995. For each Sunday the resource includes:

Members, Methods, and Mandates: Guidelines for forming a worship committee

Church worship can easily be destroyed by extremes. The same is true for the worship planning process. One extreme occurs when no one is ultimately in charge; the other occurs when everyone is. Establishing a worship committee can help churches avoid these extremes.

Piano Music For Worship: A resource list

What instrument leads your congregational singing?

In past decades, the answer to that question was quite predictable. Nearly every church had an organ, and that instrument was central to the music of each service. Today for a variety of reasons (including the cost of organs and the lack of trained organists) other instruments are taking on that leadership role. Many congregations, including my own, are led by the piano each week.