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.”
Articles in this issue:
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.
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.
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.
12/2 LOFT planning meeting
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.