Jesus, Joy of All Desiring" may be the single most recognizable piece of music written by johann Sebastian Bach. But although this movement from one Bach's cantatas is familiar, the complete cantata is seldom used in worship today. One reason worship planners avoid this and other Bach worship cantatas is that they seem too daunting.
Articles in this issue:
When you stand in your congregation and look out over the faces of men, women, and children, do you ever wonder who has been abused? Perhaps you have seen bruises on a child's arms or a woman parishioner with a black eye. Sometimes the effects of abuse are obvious. More often the bruises and scars are hidden—under clothing, under sad eyes, under years of trying to forget or compensate. Abuse is not something most of us are comfortable thinking about or being confronted with.
Fragmented and alienated, individualistic and competitive. Those are words people use to describe our society. Can they be used to describe our churches as well?
I am not a Picasso, a brutal misogynist who inflicted terror on nearly every female around him. Neither am I a Hemingway, a drunken lout given to baring his chest and knuckles at the drop of a hat. I adore Van Gogh, but I would not off my ear for anyone.
The following worship service took place at the Ridgewood Christian Reformed Church of Jenison, Michigan, on the Sunday evening before Christmas—traditionally a candlelight service involving the adult choir. This year we wanted to expand the involvement to include the junior choir and as many teens as possible. Since Christmas is a family time, we felt it was important to include all ages and make it a family gift—our gift to God, celebrating his gift to us.
Three wise men
Children dressed in costumes representing some nationality. Each carries the flag of the country represented; for our drama we chose
—South Americans (Venezuela)
—Native Americans (Canada)
[Stage is two levels of risers, empty except for a floor mike, a lectern, and a candle. Angel enters.]
One of my strongest memories, of growing up is the tradition we and many others used to share of coffee time after church on Sunday morning. Mom would always bake a cake on Saturday, and Dad would often invite visitors at church to come over for coffee, perhaps to stay for dinner. As a matter of course, one of the topics of conversation was the sermon we had just heard. I cut my theological teeth on those conversations, while listening to the adults wonder about this point or that emphasis or that interpretation.
Lament is a sign of both honest faith and resolute hope. When we worship together, we bring with us our experience in the world, from our most profound joys to our most painful sorrows. Like the Old Testament psalms, thoughtful liturgy allows us to express the whole range of our experience in ways that are fitting to the message of the gospel.
Once more in this issue, we have selected (some Q&A's from the final section of Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture, a report to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) synod in June 1997. The purpose of this study is to equip church leaders with perspectives and insights that will help them make decisions about worship—decisions that are biblically and theologically informed as well as culturally discerning.
Quiz time! Without digging out that old bulletin, what did your pastor preach on last Sunday morning?
Not a clue? You're in good company. You belong to the ninety-and-nine percent of the Coro's sheep who don't remember either.