It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, all around the world." At some point during the upcoming holiday season we will almost certainly hear those familiar lyrics on the radio, on a TV special, or at the mall.
Articles in this issue:
NEW WORSHIP RESOURCES COMING FROM CRC PUBLICATIONS
One reason we don't accept advertisements in Reformed Worship is that we always have more to print than we have room for. So here's an in-house "ad" to let you know of a few new products we're working on at CRC Publications that will be ready this fall/winter.
Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture
Available September 1997. See Q&A (p. 44) for information about this important report/study guide on worship.
Thanks to comedian David Letterman, everyone seems to have a "top ten" list for something. With a touch of embarrassment for joining in the chorus and a genuine longing to be helpful to pastors who find themselves preaching in Advent "yet again," I humbly offer my own contribution: Top Ten Ways to Keep Advent Preaching Fresh.
10 Plan ahead and plan communally.
Lighting the Advent Wreath
"Today we light the Christ candle as a reminder of Jesus, the Light of our world and the light shining in our hearts. We read from John 1:1-9."
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.
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.]