Share |

September 2001

From the Ends of the Earth to Geneva: A report on an international consultation on reformed worship

Increasing numbers of churches are celebrating World Communion Sunday on the first Sunday of October. It’s a service I look forward to more each year, especially as I get to know brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Early this year I met several in Geneva, Switzerland, when I had the privilege of attending an International Consultation on Reformed Worship. Rock music for church from the revival generation

The marriage of rock music and church music has often been, well, rocky. Just think of the Catholic priest in the 1960s who changed the lyrics of Beatles songs to reflect a Christian message. Unfortunately, songs like “I Want to Hold His Hand” did little more than show that the church was desperate to try anything to reach young people.

Sound the Trumpet: Celebrating the Old Testament Fall festivals

Throughout the Old Testament, God commands his people to observe special holidays. Chief among them are three fall and three spring festivals. The fall festivals were all celebrated in the same Jewish month of Tishri; the equivalent of our September/October:

Book: Prayers and Litanies for the Christian Seasons

Sharlande Sledge. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc. 1999. 144 pp. $16.00. 1-800-747-3016;

Mary, Mary, ordinary: service plans and monologues for Advent and Christmas, page 1 of 2

The idea of planning our Advent and Christmas messages around Mary had its genesis at a worship conference at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario. Keynote speakers Richard Middleton and Sylvia Keesmaat of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto unpacked Mary’s Song, also called the Magnificat. Ron VandenBurg, a member of our worship committee at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, returned to us full of excitement, suggesting this as our focus.

Book: Nine Steps to Becoming a Better Lector

Nick Wagner. San Jose, Calif.: Resource Publications, Inc. 2000. 96 pp. Paper $10.95. 1-888-273-7782;

What Shall I Bring Him?: A children's mosaic for Epiphany

Our children’s ministry team wanted to provide an opportunity for the children of the church to offer their gifts in worship in a visible way. Elizabeth Henstock, a member of the team, developed the concept of creating a collaborative piece for Advent using the fourteenth-century fresco Adoration of the Magi by Italian artist Giotto. The children were told and shown the story of how the magi brought gifts to Jesus. They enthusiastically agreed to work together on a large mosaic as their way of also bringing a gift to Jesus.

Resource: Sourcebook of Weddings

Vol. 2. Canton, Ohio: Communication Resources, 2001. 187 pp. $49.95; includes CD. 1-800-992-2144; order@Com

Christ the King: A festival of scripture and song for the last Sunday of the Christian year

Many churches observe the Feast of Christ of King on the last Sunday of the Christian year, which falls on the third or fourth Sunday of November and celebrates Jesus’ conquering of sin and victory over death, his eternal reign, and our identity as a royal priesthood that shares in his reign. This festival was established in 1925 by the Roman Catholic Church as a proclamation to combat the secularization of society and to call on everyone, including governments, to submit to Christ.

Resource: Funeral Sourcebook

Vol. 1. 1998. 234 pp. $43.95; with diskette, 49.95; Vol. 2 (2001) 216 pp. $49.95, includes CD. Canton, Ohio: Communication Resources, 2001.

Learning By Ear, Playing By Heart: An interview with composer/arranger Mark Hayes

RW: Mark, in your last session I was intrigued by the description of your first piano teacher. Many children today need encouragement to study music, and many churches are looking for ways to encourage them to become keyboard players. What encouraged you to study piano as a child?

Book: Let Us Pray to the Lord: A Collection of Prayers from the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Traditions

Edited by Georges Lemopoulos. Geneva: WCC Publications.1996. 97 pp. $8.95. To order from the New York office: 212-70-3193; fax 212-870-2528.

An Angel Appeared to Them: A Christmas drama for children and adults

After seeing the issue of Reformed Worship featuring angels on the cover (RW 53), I wrote this program, based on the Christmas story in Luke 2, for our church school.
For our program we had the family scene set up on one side of the platform, while the action scenes with the angels took place on the other side. We borrowed a spotlight from the local school to help shift attention from one scene to another.
—Barbara Vos

Scene 1

Common Threads

Did you ever propose a great idea to a committee? By the time all of the “You know, you could . . .” comments have died down, you’re left with an idea not at all like the one you started with. These folks don’t really mean to ruin your design, they just get caught up in the excitement and want to be a part of a good thing. Well, here’s a banner design that simply can’t be over-designed. You can honestly tell the committee that even you don’t know what the final thing will look like!

Give thanks to God, all the earth: a litany for Thanksgiving

We developed and have used or adapted this litany for several Thanksgiving services. The structure is simple—the leader gives thanks for very specific things, and the people affirm their thanks for those items with a more general phrase. We encourage the use of several different leaders on the different sections of the litany.


Banner Tips

I have enjoyed Reformed Worship since the very first issue. I appreciate the banner suggestions as I do most of the banners for church as well as organ music. Your comment on the back of the RW 59 (March 2001) about finding fewer people who sew is true. I do sew but over the last few years I have not sewed much on banners. I used Wonder-Under for a while, but I like using Heat and Bond better yet.

God's mercies never come to an end: a service for New Year's Eve

This service was prepared by Ruth Hofman, pastor of Grace Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She based it on a service originally planned by Lorraine Land for the congregation at First Christian Reformed Church, Toronto, Ontario.



Authentic Worship in a Changing World

A one-day leadership training seminar led by Robert Webber in his continuing “Renew Your Worship!” series. Contact the Institute for Worship Studies, Box 894, Wheaton, IL 60189; 630-510-8905; fax 630-510-0601; website: www.members.

Behold, I Make All Things New: A service for New Year's Day

This service was adapted from a New Year’s Day service prepared by Elizabeth Nanninga for First Christian Reformed Church of Orillia, Ontario. She is a member of the worship committee and serves as coordinator and leader of a praise team at her church.

Mary, Mary, ordinary: service plans and monologues for Advent and Christmas, Page 2 of 2



Luke 1:46-56

Sermon Starter

By all means read the Christmas story from Luke today. But if you want people to get what God is really up to, preach a Christmas Day message on Mary’s Song.

Songs for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany

The commentary combines song notes found in the Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation and additional comments by Emily R. Brink, editor of Reformed Worship. The song notes were written by a team of writers and edited by Ron Rienstra, associate editor of Reformed Worship.

God of Justice, Ever Flowing

Click to listen [ full version ]

News, Weather, Sports--Same Time, Same Station: Rodent ramblings with cousin Minnie

Monday mornings, life gets a tad tedious here by the organ bellows. So I sneak up to the church office for some serious on-line conversation with my fellow church mice. No, I’m not worried I’ll be caught. The pastor religiously participates in some kind of ritual that involves hours of walking on a grassy field and some swift swooshes of a metal stick—these punctuated by a string of words that I never hear from the pulpit.

Something Low-Key for Christmas: A program in trouble gets a sugar boost

We’re janitors—my husband and I and our kids. There are times when I get tired of having to do it. But we need the money. And we do it together, our family.

I’ll admit that our being janitors makes me a bit hesitant to throw my lot in with those who’d love to stage Aida in our sanctuary, if you know what I mean. Extravaganzas—and Lattimore Park is good at extravaganzas—make janitors work overtime.

On Advent Readings, Repetitive Contemporary Music, and Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

Q After many years of planning Advent and Christmas services, our worship planning committee wants to use Old Testament readings other than Isaiah 7, 9, 11 and 40. Do have any fresh ideas?


A Great question! Many congregations limit their search for Old Testament readings to texts from Handel’s Messiah (who would have ever guessed that a 17th-century oratorio librettist would have so much influence on worship today!).

A Time to Be Silent: Wordless before the Word


Neal just e-mailed his topic for Sunday’s service. Texts are Genesis 1, John 1, and Ecclesiastes 3—“A Time to Be Silent.” Says there’s a rhythm between silence and speaking, a rhythm as old as creation, seen in the Incarnation. In the fullness of time, God finally speaks the Word into the world.

Makes sense to use silence in the service. The trick will be how to make the silence as lively and participatory as the singing.

How to use Visual Communication in Worship

Consider this scenario: All eyes are glued to the screen as the hero Indiana Jones attempts to save his dying father. This mission requires him to somehow cross what seems like an insurmountable chasm. He stands poised at the edge of the precipice overlooking the bottomless chasm. In his hands he clutches a scroll with instructions that suggest he simply “step out in faith.” That doesn’t make sense. As the audience waits in tense anticipation, the soundtrack builds to a crescendo and then falls quiet.