September 2003

RW 69
Advent/Christmas
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • On Thanksgiving Day many churches offer a very traditional worship service: Psalm 100, a litany of thanksgiving, “Come, You Thankful People, Come.” On a day when we look back with gratitude at God’s good gifts to us, it makes sense to make use of the work and wisdom of our forebears and to worship using that which is tried and true. Other congregations seek innovation: pilgrim puppets behind the pulpit, prayers of thanks colored (not written) in crayon on scraps of paper and dropped in the offering plate.

  • Behind the Curtain

    There’s a lesson for worship leaders in a famous scene in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and company are meeting with the Great and Powerful Oz, whose voice and visage have them shaking in awe and wonder. Meanwhile, the dog Toto pulls back a drape, revealing an ordinary fellow frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers, desperate to conceal his role in the spectacle of sight and sound. He bellows, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  • God's Words, Whose Voice

    2/16—Sunday Night after LOFT

    Something’s been bugging me the last few LOFTs. Couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now I think I know what it is. It’s God’s voice. I could hardly hear it. Noticed its absence particularly after our prayer of confession tonight. We sang a Kyrie but there was no assurance of pardon after. There was a song about grace, but I’m not sure anyone understood the connection between the two. There was no clear absolution of guilt. No declaration of emancipation. No welcome home.

  • POINT

    What are we to do with Advent?

    The lectionary says, “repent and prepare,” but the rhythms of many congregations say, “children’s Christmas program.” The calendar says, “fast and pray,” but Sunday schools schedule Christmas parties with cake and cookies. Advent says, “not yet, not yet,” but church-goers clamor to sing their favorite Christmas carols.

  • Notes

    Photographs in RW 68

    In the interest of justice (!), we need to give credit where due: we regret that in our theme issue on Worship and Justice (RW 68), we omitted credits for two photographers. Nancy Olthuis (nancy.olthuis@kingsu.ca), Graphic Design Services Officer at The King’s University College, took the photos on the cover and on pages 2-3.

  • Steven L. Case. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. 128 pp. $19.99.

    While serving in youth ministry in an Episcopal church, Steven Case came to value The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as one of the most important tools in his ministry “next to the Bible (and caffeine, of course).” He decided to write an “uncommon” book based on the BCP, where the prayers would be directly related to the obstacles and challenges teenagers face daily.

  • Conferences

    Wheaton, IL, September 10-11, 1999

    Second annual Church Pianists’ Institute at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. Contact: Wheaton Convservatory of Music, Wheaton College, 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187; (603) 752-5099; patricia.swindle@wheaton.edu.

    IL, October 10-12

  • New Every Morning

    Twenty minutes after midnight one of the MCs at this year’s annual New Year’s bash in Niagara Falls, Ontario, asked the crowd, “How do you like the year so far?” The crowd, which had just enjoyed a rock concert and a fireworks display, screamed its approval, oblivious to a fatal bombing in an earlier time zone that had elicited screams of a different kind. That’s the schizophrenic kind of world we live in.

  • Many churches across Canada have been celebrating their fiftieth anniversaries the last few years. Following the end of World War II, the population of Canada exploded with immigrants, including many from the Netherlands who were grateful for the Canadian army’s role in the liberation of their country. As a binational denomination with Dutch roots, the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Canada grew from thirteen small congregations in 1945 to 170 in just fifteen years.