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September 2015

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

A Worship Series Planned by Youth

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 Ghost of a Chosen Legacy

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

The Mission of God in Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Songs

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

Missional Preaching for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

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.

Who Do You Say I AM?

Incorporating Messianic Texts in Worship

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

An Advent Installation and Interview with Hannah Garrity

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.

The Word Became Flesh

Creation-Friendly Worship in Advent and Christmas

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.

Light for Our Wilderness

A Candlelight Service

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

Sonny's Cupcake Cafe

A Christmas Play

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.

As for Me and My House

A Covenant Renewal Service Based on Joshua 24

At key moments in their history, God’s Old Testament people renewed their covenant relationship with God. The following service is based on one of those moments as chronicled in Joshua 24. It invites the congregation not only to remember but also to rehearse and reenact the story as their own. Some congregations find such a rehearsal of God’s covenant particularly meaningful as they transition into a new year.

Gathering

Scripture: Joshua 24:1

Rejoice in God

The Hymns of K. Lee Scott

Keaton Lee Scott is a native of Langdale (now Valley), Alabama, where he was born on April 19, 1950. He received his bachelor of music and master of music degrees from the University of Alabama in 1973 and 1976, respectively. Since that time he has served as an adjunct faculty member for the Schools of Music at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Samford University, and as organist/choir director at several churches. But his main occupation has been the writing of music.

Whatever Happened to the Second Coming?

This article is also available in Spanish and Korean at reformed worship.org. Don't forget that you will need the password found on the inside front cover.

한국어    Español

¿Qué pasó con la segunda venida?

도대체 재림에 무슨 일이 생겼는가?

 

Q

It has been years since I've heard a sermon or sung a song about Jesus' second coming. Why? How do we recover that?

A

The Lord's Supper and the Least

Churches introduce the Lord’s Supper in their liturgies in various ways. Some use a recommended form, while others write their own. The latter might explore a topic such as the presence of Jesus at communion, or communion and children. Here, I’d like to consider another aspect of the Lord’s Supper: how it addresses the burdens we carry when we come to the table.