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Content about Worship programs

May 31, 2010

Early this year I began working on an article for RW on the liturgical use of difficult psalms. Then on January 12 we received the news that an earthquake had struck the island nation of Haiti. By Sunday it was evident that the number of people killed, injured, or homeless would be measured in the hundreds of thousands. That Sunday morning I worshiped with two different congregations. The first congregation offered impassioned prayers for Haiti, but in a liturgical context that did not deviate from the plans laid out earlier in the week.

May 31, 2010

As our worship committee planned a service around Psalm 130, we were reminded that this is a Psalm of ascents, sung by the people of Israel as they approached the temple to worship. The psalmist begins in the depths of sin, moves to trusting in God as the One who forgives, and concludes with a communal call to trust in God. Wanting to remain true to the text, we planned our service as a journey moving from sin to trust. This momentum helped us all to acknowledge our need for a Savior and to go forward, confidently trusting in the Lord’s compassion.

May 31, 2009

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses on the church door at Wittenberg—an action that helped to spark the Protestant Reformation. Protestants of various backgrounds commemorate this act on the Sunday closest to Reformation Day (October 31) each year. In fact, all believers are indebted to the Reformers’ courageous stand for the purity of the gospel over against virtually all the civil and ecclesiastical forces of their day, armed only with an unshakable confidence in God and his Word. Many were persecuted; some paid with their lives.

May 31, 2009

In early September, many churches begin a new season of church education classes and a host of other programs with a special “kick-off” worship service. Most often these services focus on a theme of dedication, and there never seems to be enough songs with words like “Take My Life and Let It Be.” While this is a strong theme, it can also focus a lot of attention on the enormous outpouring of busyness the new year promises.

May 31, 2009

In this article Bob Langlois addresses that critical period of time before the worship service: the sound check. This can often be a frustrating time with too many leaders and not enough followers, and it can turn pretty ugly if someone doesn’t take charge. Langlois suggests that that person needs to be the sound engineer. —JB

May 31, 2009
Week 1

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

Scripture

Mark 1:40-45

May 31, 2009

People often ask, “How can we improve or renew our worship?” My response is that we should restore the central things and practice them robustly, using contemporary forms rooted in the practices of John Calvin, a sixteenth-century pastor and liturgical reformer. Even though Calvin is most widely known as a systematizer (Institutes, 1536-1559) and exegete (Commentaries on almost all the books of the Bible), the twenty-first century church should not ignore his leadership in liturgical renewal.

March 1, 2009

Sunday after Sunday, year after year, young people across the country participate in worship. What difference does it make in their lives? Most people believe that worship has a formative influence on the worshiper. But how do we understand that influence? What keeps youth involved in church and bolsters their faith?

December 1, 2007

Good Friday is a day of confrontation, a day when the forces of hatred and evil tried their best, or rather, their worst, to destroy Jesus. This is no “warm fuzzy” worship service. Instead it dramatically challenges participants to experience the reality of Christ’s crucifixion through all five senses, so the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is not only understood but felt. Here we acknowledge the ugliness of sin and our own participation, through our sins, in Christ’s death. We are there when they crucify our Lord.

May 31, 2007

I have been leading worship at my church for about a year and a half. My partners are a talented praise band that includes a number of professional musicians. I am learning how to respond when people tell me they liked the music, and I usually take the opportunity to express my appreciation for the others who make my amateur fiddling and singing seem better than it is. But one Sunday morning, a remark from a member of my congregation really started me thinking.

May 31, 2007

This service centers on the theme of giving thanks for country, church, and children. Each of the three sections features a litany, meditation, and prayer that involve a number of participants from the congregation.

May 31, 2007

May 31, 2007

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.

March 1, 2007

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’re not always in the “right” frame of mind to plan or lead worship. Much as we might hate to admit it, outside factors do affect our view of worship at a Tuesday night planning meeting or a Sunday morning service. We may be struggling with financial issues, grieving the loss of a friend, or dealing with a family member’s difficult illness. Or we may just be tired and crabby after a long day or a traffic jam.

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

March 1, 2007

September 3, 2004

Imagine the magnificent words and strains of Handel’s Messiah combined with the exuberance and creativity of children’s artwork, photography, music, and movement. The result makes for a memorable and worship-filled Christmas program for all ages.

June 2, 2003

The following checklist was prepared as a handout at a session on worship and justice at the January 2003 Symposium on Worship and the Arts. It is also posted on the website of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (www.calvin.edu/worship).

Who are the “least” in our church? In our community? In our world? How can our worship reflect God’s special love and passionate concern for the “least” among us?

June 2, 2003

I would guess that some readers of RW will find the theme of this issue, namely, worship and justice, a bit exotic; rather like yoking together a horse and an ox! Perhaps the editors were at their wits’ end to find a topic that had not already been treated. Some may even find the topic worrisome: if we aren’t careful, the social activists will take over!

June 2, 2003

Justice + worship = passion. That succinct one-liner was offered by Elise, a college student, in response to two days of exploring the relationship between justice and worship at a recent conference (cosponsors included Reformed Worship and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) at The King’s University College. Clearly she sensed that seeking and doing justice and offering worship are essential companions in the Christian life.

June 2, 2003

How much justice in worship is enough justice? Churches often develop a service once a year around one specific justice issue like hunger, but rarely does justice penetrate every week of our worship, or even better, every component of that weekly worship. How can the whole of our worship service reflect God’s special love and passionate concern for those who are poor and excluded? These resources will help worship planners integrate God’s call to justice in worship throughout the church year.

June 2, 2003

Part of what makes the World Wide Web so interesting is the way it links together things you wouldn’t ordinarily find in the same mental zip code. Two stray clicks and you’ve discovered a connection between the Great Barrier Reef and wine-soaked raisins; robotic sergers and distant quasars; justice and worship. To the church’s great shame, these last two items—working for justice and worshiping a just God—are too infrequently considered together.

May 31, 1993

The retreat was coming to a conclusion. All week the young people had been struggling with the issue of leadership. On this final morning they would have a chance to exercise that leadership by planning and leading our worship together.

We waited eagerly to see what they would come up with. Would it be something totally new, filled with the rhythm of the music they live by? Would it be irreverent to our adult eyes and ears? Would we truly be able to worship with them?

March 1, 1991
Martin Thielen. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1989. 239 pages.
Reviewed by Ruth Hofman, a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
August 31, 1989

A case for the missions emphasis of Epiphany

Some churches have Mission Emphasis service(s) in early spring, others in the summer, and still others in the fall. Is one time more "correct" than another? Probably not. The church always needs to be attentive to its mission character.