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Content about Church bulletins

September 3, 2004

This order of service was prepared for Reformation Sunday 2003 at First Presbyterian Church, Royal Oak, Michigan. It includes several liturgical elements from the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, including contributions from Luther in Germany, Bucer in Strassbourg, Calvin in Geneva, Zwingli in Zurich, Knox in Scotland, and from the English Reformation. The songs include a psalm, canticle, and hymns from these traditions; they can be found in the Presbyterian Hymnal as well as in many other hymnals.

Call to Worship

December 3, 2003

As our church made its way through a yearlong focus on the Old Testament (see “From Adam to Jonah,” p. 10) we wanted to show the relationship between the Old and New Testaments during the seasons of the church year. It’s a challenge to take seasons like Advent and Lent, with their decidedly New Testament story lines, and remember them with Old Testament passages. But we felt the Old Testament could give us a fresh perspective on these New Testament stories.

September 1, 2002

Some time ago, while reading Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Water (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998), it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to plan a series of worship services based on this book. I was also beginning to plan for the upcoming Advent and Christmas services. As I began to explore the possibilities of combining the two ideas, I was struck by how nicely the two fit together.    

In his book, Foster contends that the Christian religion is comprised of six great traditions of faith:

June 1, 2002

This service was developed for All Saints’ Day (November 1) or the Sunday evening closest to it. Through the use of majestic music sung by congregation and choir, responsive readings based on Scripture passages and themes, and meditations on martyrs and saints who spread Christianity throughout the centuries, All Saints’ Day can be celebrated in a fresh, festive way.

June 1, 2002

Another September rolls around. If you’re a typical worship and liturgy planner, you’re probably thinking, “We really ought to highlight the beginning of another season of education.” On the heels of that thought comes another: “We need to commission our education leaders. Where do we find a liturgy for that?” You might rummage through your files, hoping to cobble something together. And that may be the end of it, at least until next September.

March 2, 2002

List the five points of Calvinism,” I asked the congregation one Sunday at the start of a service. “We often use the mnemonic TULIP to help us remember what they are, so let’s work our way down the list, starting with T.” “Total Depravity,” came back loud and clear, but after that the sound level decreased noticeably with each successive point, and I could see that most of the noise was coming from those with a bit—or more—of gray around the temples.

March 2, 2002

We presented service plans for the three Old Testament fall festivals in Reformed Worship 61 (Sept. 2001). The three springtime Old Testament “religious festivals” are

December 1, 2001

Bulletin Note
Tenebrae, from the Latin word for “shadows,” has been observed in the church of Jesus Christ since the fourth century, on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. During the service, different readers will recall the events that led Jesus to the cross, and we will extinguish seven candles, one by one, dramatizing the suffering and death of Jesus. The diminishing light symbolizes the fading devotion of the disciples and the sin of the world. At the end of the service the worship center will be dark.

December 1, 2001

Eastertide offers the church a wonderful opportunity to explore what Laurence Stookey calls the “explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord,” a feat that is “too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.” Eastertide can also give churches the chance to experience weekly communion for a short period of seven celebrative weeks. And it can reclaim for the contemporary church the historical season known as The Great Fifty Days—the days from Easter to Pentecost. (For reasons of space, we have not included the service for Pentecost Sunday.)

August 31, 2001

The idea of planning our Advent and Christmas messages around Mary had its genesis at a worship conference at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario. Keynote speakers Richard Middleton and Sylvia Keesmaat of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto unpacked Mary’s Song, also called the Magnificat. Ron VandenBurg, a member of our worship committee at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, returned to us full of excitement, suggesting this as our focus.

May 31, 2001

This service was planned for a joint service of several congregations in Denver, Colorado; it was patterned after an earlier service held at the Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The title comes from the sermon preached at both services by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., president-elect of Calvin Theological Seminary, who was also part of the planning team along with John D. Witvliet and Emily R. Brink.

March 1, 2001

The story goes that Erasmus, a Renaissance scholar, was watching with the pope as wagonloads of wealth were brought through the gates of the Vatican. Turning to Erasmus, the pope observed. "No longer can the church say with Peter, 'Silver or gold have I none.'" Erasmus replied, "True. And neither can the church say to the lame man, 'Take up your bed and walk.'"

Mantaining spiritual vigor in the midst of great wealth was a challenge for the church of past centuries-and still is for the church today. We have been entrusted with incredible resources.

December 1, 2000

How do we balance our joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection with the enduring reality of our fallen world? That’s the question we will focus on in these services for Eastertide, the seven weeks from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. The answer lies in the gospel we proclaim—a gospel of transformation. God takes what is and changes it to conform to his will. While this leads us to repent of former ways in the hope of future ones, it does not allow us to deny the former ways.

December 1, 2000

Some parents asked our Worship Ministry team to consider ways of drawing children into our worship services, and as a parent of two school-aged daughters and a toddler, I concurred. When I read the Lenten series “Picture Jesus” (RW 54; also available here ), it struck me that the article and the artwork would lend themselves quite well to a kids’ bulletin series. Our pastor had planned on preaching a series in Lent concerning the questions that Jesus asked during his ministry.

December 1, 2000

Can we ever truly experience the grief of Good Friday? We know the ending and rejoice with our Savior that it is a happy one come Easter morn, but that very knowledge keeps us from fully realizing the tragedy that Christ’s death brought to those who lived through it. Whatever their understanding of his ministry, whatever hopes and dreams they had built for the future, all came crashing down before the stark and ugly death he suffered on the cross. Leader, friend, teacher, son—all seemed irretrievably lost.

August 31, 2000

Service Plans and Sermon Sketches
for Advent and Christmas

December 1, 1999

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 8 in 2000. This service combines features from several services. Ronald Kok, evangelist of Living Hope Community Church, Randolph, Wisconsin, submitted plans from a community-wide service. Similar plans from Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, were developed from a service by John D. Witvliet included in The Services of the Christian Year, Volume V of the Complete Library of Christian Worship, edited by Robert Webber (available from Hendrickson Publishing, 978-532-6546).

December 1, 1999

A copy of this article, complete with graphics, is also available as a 9pg/165k Adobe Acrobate file which can be viewed and printed using the free Acrobat reader.

August 31, 1999

In past years Reformed Worship has offered churches a series of Advent resources that have often been based on Scripture lessons outlined by the Revised Common Lectionary. This year the resources take a different, though related, direction. Each year the lectionary follows a different gospel more or less sequentially. The gospels of Matthew and Luke (Years A and C respectively) contain enough narrative about Jesus’ birth or early life to make the direct focus on Jesus every week in Advent preaching natural and relatively easy.

August 31, 1999

Ron B. De Boer is a teacher and writer in Kitchener, Ontario. He wrote this play for the children’s Christmas program at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener.

Setting and Props
May 31, 1999

In crafting a series that explores the richness of the Psalter for the life of prayer, I considered two approaches. The first was to spend one week on each of the main types of prayer in the psalms—for example, lament, songs of praise, enthronement psalms—choosing one psalm from each category to be that type’s model and the focus for the preaching and worship of that week’s service.

December 1, 1998

In this series prepared for the 1997 Lenten season at La Grave Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, John Steigenga (the copastor who preached two of the sermons in the series) and I decided to trace Jesus’ journey to the cross using the famous idea of the Via Dolorosa. Traditionally, those words have referred to the last hours of Jesus’ life, particularly to the fourteen stations of the cross traced out on the streets of Jerusalem and enshrined in Catholic churches.

August 31, 1998

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go! Do you remember singing this bouncing little piece as a child? I sure do!

It was my song.

And it didn't seem to matter that the trip from Battle Creek, Michigan, where I grew up, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Grandma and Grandpa Brown lived, didn't include a single river crossing and hardly any woods.

August 31, 1998

God used angels to announce the news of the coming of Christ. As I thought about the first coming of Christ and the promise of his second coming, the following Scripture verses came to me—and out of those verses came the concept and design for the angel banner. The Scripture verses were placed in the bulletin for each Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day. Along with the banner, those verses served as an invitation for the people to prepare their hearts for worship.