September 2003

RW 69
Advent/Christmas
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Longing for Home

    Why do we make such a fuss about being home for Christmas? Those who have been blessed with happy childhoods may enjoy going home even after becoming adults. We like to be at home with the people we love; sometimes we even long for it.

  • We prepared this service for the beginning of Advent. It would also be suitable for the Sunday before Advent, when celebrating Christ the King Sunday, since it covers the entire Christian year. Worship leaders had printed copies of the service, including all the texts. The congregation had no printed worship folder; all the texts were projected on a screen. Also projected were the section titles of each section of the service along with medieval art depicting the Holy Family (also see front cover).

  • In Mexico City, for the most part, New Year’s Eve is a night for worship and family gatherings, not a night for wild public gatherings.

    The congregation at Gethsemane Presbyterian Reformed Church in Mexico City celebrates New Year’s Eve with gentle traditions of remembrance spiced with hope. Families gather first for worship and then in their homes for midnight supper.

  • The Pulse of Worship

    Percussion in worship presents the same promises and problems as any other art. Played well, percussion can offer a wordless prayer, a lively conversation, an expression of sorrow, or an infectious call to praise. Performed poorly, it is an annoying, noisy distraction. How can a congregation learn to offer percussion as a skillful, powerful part of the pulse of worship?

    This article is addressed particularly to congregations without a tradition of using percussion in worship and rests on these assumptions:

  • Matt Redman. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2001. 126 pp. $12.99.

    From the moment I opened Matt Redman’s The Unquenchable Worshipper I faced a dilemma: to move onto the next chapter as quickly as I could because I was hungry for more, or to mull and ponder the chapter I’d just finished because I liked the taste it left.

  • Q: What do you get when you are asked to take part in an event for which you are remarkably unprepared?

    A: Butterflies in your stomach.

    Q: What do you get when you realize that the majority of participants in that event are as unprepared as you?

    A: The false assurance of safety in numbers.

    Q: What do you get when the leadership of that same event begins to realize what’s going on?

    A: Frustrated and disheartened leadership.

  • Walter Brueggeman. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2003. 173 pp. $12.00.

    Anyone at all familiar with Walter Brueggemann’s work will note his characteristic offbeat style already in the title of this book (awed to heaven). Brueggemann, an Old Testament theologian, is here the theologian at prayer. This collection of prayers brings together his prayers (no more than a page each, often less) from such diverse occasions as opening a class to leading a worship service.

  • With this issue, Reformed Worship begins its seventeenth year. Not very old, as journals count years, but when we stopped to think about it, a surprise even for our staff. Many of you have been subscribers since the first issue; many others buy back issues when they begin subscribing. We have a remarkably loyal readership, and we’re grateful.