September 2010

RW 97
Advent/Christmas
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Banners to Bookmarks

    Afew years ago, we designed a worship service for the first Sunday of Advent to introduce and explain the general themes of the season, including the lighting of Advent candles. In past years, the latter had received cursory attention, consisting of a short Bible reading followed by the lighting of the corresponding candle. I saw value in giving the Advent candle themes more attention, perhaps by “illuminating” their meanings (hope, love, joy, peace) visually. We decided to create a banner for each Advent candle.

  • With Heart and Voice

    This dramatic reading was written to show how the announcement of a coming Savior fit snugly into the history and expectations of God’s

    people, how the Lord Almighty is a God of justice who watches over the needy, and how this God will be manifest in Jesus.

  • Perfect Harmony?

    Forty or fifty years ago, there wasn’t much question of what you’d find when opening a hymnal: congregational songs displayed in four-part harmony. Glorious SATB! There is nothing like the sound of a congregation raising its praise in a robust balance of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Many of the best singing congregations in Reformed, Mennonite, and Lutheran traditions don’t even need the support of an organ or piano to complete their harmonies.

  • Discovering fresh worship music for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphanycan certainly be a challenge. In no other season is the pressure to singfamiliar songs so evident. And yet, in this season we are surrounded bywhat we already know. We hear the old Christmas strains on our commute,at Starbucks, and in the mall.

    To help my faith community stay spiritually awake in December, I usetwo methods: creatively arranging old favorites and introducing newworld and modern songs. Here are a few suggestions for doing both.

  • I can’t imagine worship through the cycle of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany without music. Through the centuries, composers and arrangers have offered the church a wealth of music that is consistent with the themes of worship for these seasons.

  • Skeletons in the Closet

    Note: The readers’ parts should be adapted to fit the “voice” and experience of the readers as well as the context in which this script is used.

    [Violin plays through “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154 one time.]

    Reader 1: When I was a child, I had no patience for family reunions or for the drawn-out discussions about family genealogy that occurred over Sunday morning coffee at my grandfather’s house.

  • It’s coming, just like it always does, ready or not: the moment when the congregation becomes quiet and everyone’s eyes turn toward you. The moment when you take a deep breath and then do your best to unfold the mysteries of Scripture. The moment when you find out whether the sermon that seemed so compelling in your office can compete with this week’s episode of The Office.

    Every preacher faces that pressure. But different preachers may take very different approaches.

  • More from Tapescrew

    This is the second of three letters from Tapescrew to his nephew Woodworm, in which he delights in the human tendency to resist dependence on “the Enemy.”

    My dear Woodworm,

  • The following article, though not typical for Reformed Worship, is well worth spending some time on. Pastors, musicians, and worship planners alike can benefit from considering the pairing of text and tune and the challenges that arise from a plethora of choices. In addition, several denominations are in the process of developing new hymnbooks for congregational song. This series of articles provide a peek into some of the detailed discussions that take place when considering the pairing of texts and tunes.

    —JB

  • You go for the kids. At least that’s what you tell yourself. You know the story, and though the songs may change from year to year, little else does. It’s not that it’s not enjoyable; it’s just that it’s so predictable. The story doesn’t change, and you don’t expect it to change you—not after all these years.