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Content about Symbolism

December 1, 2008

One ordinary Sunday morning, I sat in my pew praying customary words of confession and hearing familiar words of assurance. My pastor announced, as he did every Sunday, “God assures us with these words of pardon . . .” But at that moment, the words surprised me. Immediately, I turned to my wife and whispered excitedly, “Pardon! That’s an image of the atonement!”

December 4, 2004

Our Lent series this year focused on the theme of sin. We used the seven deadly sins as a guide to examine our sin in some of the services. The first week of the series was a very general introduction to sin. The second week we introduced the seven deadly sins, using dirty rags to represent each of the sins.

December 4, 2004

Earlier this year, an elderly member of our congregation died. She had been prepared for many years and had spoken frequently about her readiness for death. Her legal and medical documents were in perfect order. Her funeral was prepaid and prearranged with the local funeral director; she had chosen her casket, flowers, and, presumably, everything else related to the “final disposition” of her body. Her preparedness was well known to her family, her pastors, and her friends.

September 3, 2003

It started innocently enough with the Advent wreath. Each Sunday during Advent an individual or a family from our congregation came forward after the greeting to read a

passage of Scripture and to light a candle. Because of space constraints, our congregation does not have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, so at the end of the fourth Sunday we lit the Christ candle, a big pillar candle, and sang a Christmas hymn right before the benediction.

June 1, 1996
Q. What is the origin of the Christian flag, and where should it stand in relation to the American flag?

A. The idea for the Christian flag was conceived by a Mr. Charles E. Overton, apparently during an impromptu talk at Brighton Chapel in Staten Island, New York. It was first designed and constructed in 1907. The flag was initially popularized in the Methodist Church, and is used in several denominations. However, it has never received the status of being the "official" Christian flag.

June 1, 1994

Candles have a long and rich history in Christian worship. We light them during Advent to remind us that "the true light that enlightens everyone" [NRSV] is coming into the world.

September 1, 1993

Why is the Advent wreath part of our Advent liturgies? Having candles and evergreen boughs in church during this time of year is pleasant, certainly But should these things really have a place in our worship service?"

September 1, 1993

There's my apple, Mom!" We were halfway through singing the first hymn when my son's eyes caught sight of his creation. I could hear the pride in his voice. "It's for Adam and Eve," he announced. As I quieted him, I smiled to myself, remembering his wide grin as he carried his apple forward as part of the offering on the first Sunday of Advent.

September 1, 1992

The worship committee has a fine idea. Several other churches in the area have used an Advent wreath for years, and the committee thinks it's about time that John Knox Church does so as well. They construct the wreath, purchase candles in appropriate liturgical colors, and invite a family to read the Scripture and light the candle on the first Sunday of Advent.

December 1, 1991

It was the season of Lent, the time when all God's people prepare to celebrate the mystery of Easter. Once again a branch stood in our sanctuary, stark and white against the rich oak woodwork. It was supported by a pot filled with heavy stones and covered by a black cloth.

March 1, 1991

Although an infrequent occurrence in most Reformed churches, the laying on (imposition) of hands is among the most venerable of all religious ceremonies—and one that is beginning to attract renewed interest in some Christian circles. What does the imposition of hands signify? Why has it played such a minor role in the Reformed tradition? Can this ancient practice contribute anything to Reformed worship today? Is it biblical?

A Biblical Tradition
December 1, 1990

During the 1990 Lenten season at Hessel Park Church in Champaign, Illinois, a local artist, Linda Vredeveld, demonstrated that liturgical art can be as unassuming as a pile of dirt at the foot of a cross. She chose common materials such as dirt, light cloth, and twigs and gave them new meaning in the worship setting.