September 2015

RW 117
Advent/Christmas
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Thinking Deeply

    “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
    —John 1:14, The Message

    It’s that time of year again. Time to prepare for Advent and Christmas, looking for a new take on the old story, trying to find some creative ideas to get the juices flowing. But, as we all know, those ideas can’t be too involved because the months around Christmas are busy. As you and your congregation begin to prepare for this important season, may I make one suggestion? Leave room to think deeply.

  • Angels and Songs

    One of the more subtly challenging aspects of worship planning that our team faces is how to develop a sense of cohesiveness from week to week. How does the worship we facilitate this week relate to what we experienced the previous week or to what we will encounter next week?

  • The ghosts of a chosen legacy
    curl in rattling whispers, echoes of that
    tarnished triumphal exodus rendered by the cleavage
    of a foreboding sea and heralded
    through the inciting song of Miriam.  
    The Israelite root hacked down, defiled
    and tormentingly grafted in the crucible promise
    of a pagan adopted daughter to a widowed Mara,
    the gleaner only rescued by the bestowed favor of a kinsman redeemer,  
    his honor bound by the threads of marital covenant.
    The tangled ancestry unfurling to seize

  • Worship Amid Pain

    We are pleased to introduce a new series of writers for this Noteworthy column. This column and the ones appearing in the next three issues, though authored by an individual, are the result of a collaboration between four Canada-based writers who are associated with various colleges that make up the University of Toronto. In this issue we will hear from Swee Hong Lim. The other three collaborators are Christina Labriola (RW 118), Hilary Donaldson (RW 119), and Becca Whitla (RW 120).
    —JB

  • Recently I served as the chairperson for a search committee that was seeking to hire a new professor of missions and missiology at Calvin Seminary. That task meant that I had the chance to bring myself up to speed a bit on the current state of conversations about missions and where some of the primary foci are in the field of missiology.

  • Every fall as we approach the Advent and Christmas seasons, I find myself searching for an entry point to these annual celebrations. What will “ignite” the planning process? Which idea, word, image, or song will come to mind and become the foundation of the eventual Advent chapel service at school or Christmas Eve celebration at church?

  • A Visual Choir

    What is she doing? She has my dream job! I need to know about that job!”

    The first time Hannah Garrity witnessed an artist creating visual art in worship, it nearly took the wind out of her.

  • For centuries, John 1 has offered the church perhaps its favorite Advent text outside of the birth narratives of Luke. But have we ever stopped to think about what was going through the mind of the author when he chose the word logos (word) to describe Jesus? Perhaps we are so used to the strange choice that we don’t realize how inscrutable it sounded the first time Western ears heard it. But make no mistake: it was utterly clear and eminently meaningful to John’s original audience.

  • While candlelight services often take us through the Christmas story with opportunities to sing beloved carols, this service is unique in that it focuses on our wilderness. So many of us relate to that dry place, that dark place, that lonely place, a place of despair, of yearning. The world around us is such a place, and it is to such a place that Christ came to be our Light. This service provides a beautiful and meaningful way to approach Christmas.
    —JB

  • What can a small congregation do to meet the needs of children and families? Traditional age-stratified classes don’t work when there are only one or two children per grade level.