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September 2011

The World is Going to End

Christian or not, you can’t help but wonder if the world is about to implode.

No, this isn’t another Harold Camping-esque attempt at prophecy. It’s just a simple statement of fact. The world as we presently know it will end. This truth is as certain as the birth and resurrection of Christ.

Looking for the Real Jesus

While even young children can know the facts of the Christmas story it is another thing altogether to comprehend it.  This series helps all of us explore the reality of Christ’s birth a little further, to see a rough manger, not a soft bed, the king’s crown next to the crown of thorns, to begin to grasp the glory and the peace that he brings.

Week 1: Jesus, Our Good News

Colossians 1:1-8, 28-29

Lighting of Advent Candle

From Darkness to Light

This service is part of the Advent series “Looking for the Real Jesus.” It could also be used independent of the series. For our Candlelight service, we wanted to make sure that people who may come to only one service a year would hear the whole gospel story from beginning to end. We wanted to make sure they knew why Jesus had to come to earth and why Christmas is so important.

Ringing of Bells

Musical Prelude

Under the Bethlehem Star

After wrapping up last year’s Advent series at our church, Pastor Dale proposed the idea of using the book of Ruth for our next Advent series. Although my thoughts kept rolling around the question How will he get Advent and Christmas out of the book of Ruth? I didn’t say anything. By July, when it was time to select bulletin covers for Advent, the question was still there.
I needed to know how to correlate the Advent candle wreath lighting with the sermon theme. What evolved became one of my favorite Christmas series.

Article Resources: 

Worshiping the Triune God: Gathering

A Study Guide to a Global Dialogue, Part 2 of 5

This article is the second in a series introducing “Worshiping the Triune God,” a working document published following the inaugural meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in June 2010 (see Part 1 in RW 100).

Songs for the Christmas Cycle

Psalm 126/When God Restored Our Common Life; In the Heavens There Shone a Star; Psalm 30/I Will Praise You, O God; Psalm 111/The Fear of the Lord

Every year Christians celebrate the two great festivals of Christmas and Easter that give meaning to our lives: Christ’s coming to earth in human form and in humility, and Christ’s return to his Father in a glorified human body. This year, Advent begins on November 27 with the Scripture passages in the Revised Common Lectionary for Year B.

Holy Spirit, Present at Advent

The following theme, objective, and structure outline is reminiscent of the lesson plans teachers prepare for their classes. As worship planners it would be a great discipline to use similar categories for our planning.


Do You See What I Hear?

A seven-year-old friend of mine showed me his sketchbook after the service last Sunday. It was a drawing of one of the electric guitars used by the praise band of our church. He was quite proud of his work, but he was quick to point out that the strings weren’t quite right. They were a little heavy-looking, but it was a very well-drawn picture for a kid his age. Afraid Sam would quit drawing guitars because the first one he drew wasn’t perfect, I told him how in art school you get to draw and redraw the same thing over and over until it feels just right.

Character References

Meeting People through Literature
This column is provided in cooperation with the Center for Excellence in Preaching. For more on the CEP, its upcoming events, and its online resources, visit

Born in Humility, Returning in Glory

The book of Isaiah has long been appreciated for its vivid imagery depicting broad messianic themes: the Anointed One, the Coming One who will bring about God’s redemptive purposes in history; the Messiah as King who “will judge the needy with righteousness and with justice will give decisions for the poor”; but also the Messiah as an obedient servant whose suffering unto death works God’s redemption. As a consequence, Isaiah has often been called “the fifth gospel.”

Praying the Psalms with Kids

Dear God, be with my cat. Be with my grandma. Be with my friend who broke his arm.

The prayers of young children, in spite of their “me-centeredness,” often reflect concerns with their immediate world. These basic intercessory prayers show that kids work to develop their own prayer life. They also prompt us to guide our children well in learning the full range of a rich prayer life with God.

Celebrating Advent During a Tough Year

Q. I don’t want to go into all the details, but our congregation has had a really tough year. Our worship planners are weary and worried about guiding the church through the “joyful” Christmas season. They don’t have a lot of joy and wish they could skip ahead to the New Year so we can start over. Do you have any ideas to encourage them?