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September 2000

On Scripture Readings and Liturgical Time Warps

Q. Each week in worship, we read from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the New Testament readings are direct fulfillments of the Old Testament prophecy that is read. Sometimes these passages seem entirely unrelated. Why?

A. First, I’m happy to hear that you have those two readings each week. This is a wonderful way of ensuring that the congregation is exposed to a balanced diet of biblical readings. It gives a sense of God’s actions over time.

My Moment of Epiphany: Reflections of a worship planning team member

At 10:55 we still needed a tambourine player, someone for the castanets, and a third for the wood block. I also noticed that the tune listed in the bulletin for “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was not the one the organist had been cued to play. At 11:01 I slipped into my seat in time to hear the last announcement and sucked in air as the liturgist shifted our focus to worship. This was not an atypical Sunday morning at Grace Church.

Book: Choosing Contemporary Music: Seasonal, Topical, Lectionary Indexes

Compiled by Terri Bocklund and Rob Glover. Minneapolis: Augsburg/ Fortress, 2000. 263 pp. $29.95. ISBN 0-8066-3874-5. 1-800-328-4648.

This book is just what you’ve been waiting for. The church is swimming—drowning?—in new music written for worship. We can’t keep up, let alone organize, evaluate, and learn all the new songs coming our way.

Celebrating Bach's Legacy to the Church: After 250 years, he still preaches powerfully through his music

Fifty years ago, on the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death, composer Paul Hindemith gave a speech titled “Heritage and Obligation.” Like Hindemith, many composers since the time of Mozart have felt some kind of obligation to Bach’s heritage—composers as diverse as Mendelssohn, Chopin, Brahms, Stravinsky, and the jazz pianist John Lewis.

Book: A Child Shall Lead: Children in Worship

John D. Witvliet, Editor. ©1999 by Choristers Guild (CGBK64;; published in cooperation with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (; distributed by the Lorenz Corp., 501 E. Third St., Box 802, Dayton, OH 45401. 125 pp. $19.95. Reviewed by Carrie Vroege, Prospect Park, New Jersey.

Prayer Partners: How a Pastor's "Innovative Ideas" Led One Couple to Skip Church

Anne Francis drove alone to church last Sunday night, the car silent in light traffic, Frank sitting back home in front of some scandalous segment of 60 Minutes.

“How long has it been,” he had said, “six weeks now, maybe?”

She knew what he was thinking because she was thinking it too.

“I know it’ll be a prayer service tonight,” he told her. “I can feel it in my bones, Annie. I’m just not up for sharing tonight, so I’m sitting this one out.”

Book: The Creative Church Musician Series Series Vol. 2: The Creative Use of Choirs in Worship

Hal H. Hopson. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 1999 (Code 8013).1-800-323-1049. 222 pp. $49.95.

How to...Encourage Your Children to Worship: Part 2: Tips for parents

Sunday morning has arrived. The children are dressed in clean clothes. Once seated in the pew, mom and dad breathe a sigh of relief and worship begins. Or does it? In our attempts to keep the kids quiet, most parents pass out the candy and become adept at the meaningful glance. The result? Kids become skilled not at worship but at daydreaming the hour away. So even though the family can make it through a service of worship, they may not be worshiping God together.

Visual Epiphany

In the front of the church where I worship, we have always had a beautifully proportioned cross that is mounted against a light-colored wall. This wall is lit from both sides, and where the light mixes in the middle, there is the most interesting vertical stripe of light. Because of its prominence and the lighting, I wanted to do something with the cross--something different than our usual crown of thorns and purple cloth, perfectly draped for Easter. Something for Advent.


Responses to the Hosea Service Series for Advent

Contemporary...with a Sense of History: Introducing our new associate editor

At the beginning of our fifteenth year of publishing Reformed Worship, we’re introducing a few changes. You may have already noticed some new design features; more significantly, we welcome Ron Rienstra as new associate editor. Ron is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America; he’ll be working with us while also continuing his association with Calvin College, where he directs student-planned and -led worship services every Sunday night during the school year.


New from CRC Publications

Three more Scripture Alive: Dramatic Readings from Scripture scripted by Bert Polman are now available. $14.95US/$21.70CDN. Order by phone (800-333-8300) or on the web:

God Speaks, Creation Listens: The Story of Beginnings
(40 minutes; order no. 415112)

Savior of Her People: The Story of Esther
(40 minutes; order no. 415110)

Heal Us Today: Stories of Jesus the Healer
25 minutes; order no. 415111)

Remembering the future: service plans and sermon sketches for Advent and Christmas, page 1 of 2

Service Plans and Sermon Sketches
for Advent and Christmas

Remembering the future: service plans and sermon sketches for Advent and Christmas, page 2 of 2

Music Suggestions

Organ Music

“The King Shall Come” by Michael Burkhardt, Five Advent Hymn Improvisations (MorningStar MSM-10-004, 1991)
“The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” by David Johnson, Preludes and Postludes, Volume 2 (Augsburg 11-9319, 1973)

Partita on “Freu dich sehr, O meine Seele” by Johann Pachelbel, Selected Organ Works, Volume 4 (Kalmus 3763, reprinted by Belwin Mills)

Luther, Calvin, and the Pope Meet: A Reformation Day communion service with reader's theater

Every year around Halloween, our worship committee strains brains and resources: How can we memorably, intelligently, and accurately place worship of God above “Trick or Treat” to our increasingly diverse congregation? We have many from various Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds, and some who claim no Christian heritage at all. Thus in 1999 our Reformation Day communion service tried graciously, seriously, yet somewhat lightheartedly, to present three main Reformation-era figures in a conversation imagined from eternity.

Why Are They Singing? A short meditation

The following short meditation by Stan Mast is a bonus resource promised in RW57. The full service appears in the magazine.

You Are Our God
Click to listen  [ descant | melody | both ]

Text: Psalm 137

Give Thanks in the Desert; Give Thanks in the Promised Land: A Thanksgiving Day service

Recognizing that some people may be going through difficult times when they worship, our worship committee came up with an idea for a Thanksgiving service that speaks about giving thanks both when we are “in the desert” and when we are “in the promised land.”

Why Are They Singing? A hymn festival celebrating Covenant history

Each year near the end of October the congregation at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church gathers for an evening hymn festival. Last year the festival was called “Songs of the Covenant,” a service focusing on various biblical characters with whom God kept covenant. While the hymns and anthems were central to the festival, the pastor’s brief meditation entitled “Why Are They Singing?” set the tone and explained the theme for the entire service.

Wisdom of God, Word of God: A service of lessons and carols

This service of lessons and carols is rooted in the story of God’s eternal Word made flesh and living among the people. The readings, prayers, carols, and other folk music were chosen to embody this theme.

The Life: Drama and Dance to accompany Songs of Michael Card

Having been involved in drama at Jubilee Church for years, I felt inspired to write a dramatic adaptation of twelve songs from Michael Card’s CD set The Life (see right). Our church performed it a year later, involving the majority of the congregation and covering the entire life of Christ in one full-evening production. This issue of Reformed Worship includes a sample—a few songs from the Advent section—for congregations who wish to integrate one or more of these songs into a worship service.

It Came upon the Midnight Clear; Angels We Have Heard on High; In the Lord, I'll Be Ever Thankful; Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light; Psalm 97

It Came upon the Midnight Clear

In the previous article, Ron Rienstra tells how this Christmas carol was “retooled” for an Advent service led by students. Since the more familiar form of this song is available in many hymnals, we are providing the arrangements for piano (below) and guitar (p. 29), which may be played together, as prepared for that student service.

Good A popular site for popular songs

When worship leaders get together, they inevitably trade favorite new songs with the eagerness of children on the playground swapping Pókemon cards. Part of this is the earnest desire to find and share with others “the good stuff” amid the staggering amount of new music available today. Another motivating factor is simply a desire to see what others are using in their churches.

Hopes and Fears of All the Years: A New Year's Eve service

After all the busyness of Christmas, it can be a relief to plan a simple service to mark the end of the year. Our pattern for New Year’s Eve has been to invite everyone for a potluck supper, a time of worship, and then a party that lasts as long as people want to stay. Because there will always be some people who have no invitations or plans for New Year’s Eve, we extend an open invitation for this time of worship and fellowship. People come with a hot dish and salad or dessert as well as munchies for the evening.