According to the Iona community’s Wild Goose Worship Group, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter “are marked by a series of progressions.” As Christ walked a path marked by suffering and unparalleled victory, so believers follow in his steps—“through fear to courage, from private suspicion to public testimony, from a scattered band of loners and losers to a tightly knit community of faith” (Stages on the Way: Worship Resources for Lent, Holy Week & Easter, p. 11).
In the past few years, I’ve been increasingly nurtured by the music the Iona Community produces and distributes. But for most of that time, the hope that I would ever encounter Bell, perhaps its best-known member, had been diminishing.
Some weddings are primarily a dialogue between the wedding couple and the presiding minister, but it needn’t be so. Inviting the gathered wedding guests to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” provides a corporate opportunity to express musical praise for God’s love to us, to offer sung prayers for the wedding couple, and to encourage everyone to practice the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Sermons on praise in the narrow sense (Ps. 95) and on worship in all of life (Rom. 12) are immensely important to preach. But suppose that you want to preach about the worship service, the liturgy, the event of gathering in Jesus’ name (for more on these three meanings of the term worship see p. 46). Perhaps worship has become a source of conflict in your congregation. Perhaps you want to deepen the congregation’s experience of common worship. To preach about worship, what text would you preach? Where in Scripture would you look?
According to the Revised Common Lectionary, most of the Sundays from September through November fall under the general heading “Ordinary Time.” This designation is not meant to imply that these weeks represent an unimportant part of the Christian year. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Ordinary Time is a valuable reminder that the Christian life is an everyday vocation and is not reserved simply for special occasions.
With this “Songs for the Season,” we again introduce songs on the working list for the new hymnal supplement being prepared jointly by CRC Publications, the Commission for Worship of the Reformed Church in America, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. This supplement is intended to introduce twentieth-century hymnody, praise music, and world music that will enhance Reformed worship.
On the first Sunday of October, increasing numbers of churches participate in World Communion Sunday, a time when Christians everywhere celebrate what it means to belong to "the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints." Indeed, the church is the one body of Christ, our head. In Holy Communion, we most deeply celebrate our oneness in Christ.
During the past generation, a wealth of new worship songs have been written. Many were inspired by the reforms of Vatican II during the 1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church translated their liturgy into the vernacular and began to encourage congregational singing. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of those new songs assume both Word and Table every Sunday. Also, since most Protestant churches celebrate the Lord's Supper more frequently than they did a generation ago, most hymnal sections on the Lord's Supper have steadily increased in size.
Again in this issue at Reformed Worship, we offer a glimpse at the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook, a large project that is nearing completion at long last. You will be hearing much more about it in the next issues of RW!
Our guide for worship is Paul's letter to the Colossians. This epistle celebrates the lordship of Jesus Christ, reminds us of our "Freedom to Serve," and calls us to live in the fullness of our union with Christ. The order of worship mirrors the outline of this epistle, with hymns and prayers that serve to help us live into the truth of Paul's message.
My first impression of John Bell was that of a modern-day John the Baptist. From his piercing eyes down to his sandal-clad feet, he projected the intense charisma I've always associated with that desert prophet.
June is often a month of partings. Children finish another school year, families leave on vacations, and many young couples get married, leaving their parents' homes to begin new homes. This little parting song of blessing would be appropriate in a number of these settings.