Q My pastor was explaining John Calvin’s understanding that in the Lord’s Supper “the Holy Spirit lifts us up so that we commune with Jesus in heaven.” This sounds beautiful—but it also sounds pretty far-fetched. The Lord’s Supper doesn’t feel, taste, or look like heaven. What are we to make of this?
Every few years it happens, often around Easter. Questions about the life and ministry of Jesus are still so interesting to so many people that one, two, or even three of the major weekly newsmagazines in America will run cover stories about him. Few celebrities get their faces on the covers of such magazines all in the same week. Yet centuries after his death and resurrection, Jesus still generates a lot of press—not only for what he did or said but for the core question of who he is.
Q: If a call to worship is really about hearing God call us, then what about using as a call to worship one of the many psalms that originated in a liturgical setting where people were calling each other to worship? Who is speaking to whom? Must the call to worship come from Scripture? Does it necessarily have to be short or can a choir sing an anthem for the call to worship?
In Part One of this article I presented the case that the church should consistently instruct and encourage Christians to live in obedience to God. Some complain that God’s law is a burden. Yet God’s will for our lives is not a set of arbitrary demands, it is how God designed us to live and the path to blessing. “Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked . . . but who delight in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 1).
At a summer planning meeting on her back porch, Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, mentioned a Psalm Festival she had done with her church in Boston—all 150 Psalms in one night. That sounded like a great project for Calvin College.
In many churches it is customary to include a profession of faith in worship. This may take the form of the congregation reciting one of the ecumenical creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Or it may include a reading from one of the Reformed creeds such as the Heidelberg Catechism. In so doing we not only affirm what we believe but also express our solidarity with the church of Christ universal.
What does it take to lead worship well? As anyone who has prepared to step in front of a congregation for the first time knows, leading worship successfully takes more than courage or a mechanical awareness of what to do when. Good worship leadership demands knowledge, ability, and preparationó and it begins with a good theology of worship.
It's Sunday morning. All over the city Christians are leaving their homes and gathering in churches. For the next hour or more they will meet and perform a number of liturgical acts together. They will pray, sing hymns, read Scripture, listen to a sermon, and more—a stylized series of actions that we call "worshiping God."