This litany encourages us to acknowledge the frantic pace of our lives, remember that God knows us inside and out, and take time to be still.
Leader: We sit here trying our best to steady ourselves for an hour or two, but you know us, Lord. You know the distractions that tug at our minds, the worries that vie for our attention, the burdens that betray our affections.
In 2009, Emily Brink and Paul Neeley participated in two worship conferences in Pakistan co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM). Rev. Eric Sarwar, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and founder of TSCM, arranged both conferences, one at the Presbyterian Seminary in Gujranwala, and the other hosted by Christ the King Roman Catholic Seminary in Karachi.
The term “praise team” seems so limiting.
Isn’t there a better alternative?
Dan Damon is an author/composer who knows and understands the tradition of hymn-writing but is able to infuse it with creative post-modern thought—and vice versa. While his texts are to the point, they do not indulge in stark language merely for shock value or to prove their “relevance.” And Damon’s tunes, notable for their diversity, are singable and supportive of the text.
Convicted by the rooster’s crow,
I was his friend, now was his foe.
Jesus, my master, stood so near,
yet I found no comfort, only fear.
Thrice they asked me if I knew,
“Weren’t you one of his followers few?”
Thrice I said, “I do not know!”
I denied him so they’d let it go.
In this drama, loosely based on Matthew 27:55-61 and 28:1-10, Mary Magdalene (MM) and “the other Mary” reflect on their time with Jesus and the events of Easter morning.
While the details of these two women’s lives are unclear, what isn’t disputed is the fact that they traveled with Jesus and the disciples and played a significant role in the resurrection narrative and message.
This service of shadows follows Matthew after he abandoned Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. We imagine that Matthew follows the path that Jesus took, speaking with 12 people who each tell him a part of the crucifixion story. As they talk about the events that have taken place, Matthew is reminded of prophecies from Isaiah, from the psalms, and from the words of Jesus himself as he foretold his death.
This Good Friday service, which is based on the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9, combines teaching with Scripture and song. It’s a quiet, meditative service meant to provoke deep reflection, so consider lowering the lights in the sanctuary and asking congregants to enter and exit in silence.
The climactic scene of Matthew’s gospel describes the risen Christ standing with his disciples in Galilee as he gives them final instructions. He tells them to go and “make disciples of all nations.” As Jesus invited each of them to follow him and to form a community with each other, Jesus now asks them to invite others to come into communities of discipleship. He institutionalizes his own method of community organizing: inviting people into relationship with a leader and then with each other.
Thinking about Lent again makes me feel a bit fatigued, especially when I think about all the energy required to defend and promote all the disciplines of obedience that are so important during Lent. Our congregation resists all of that “spiritual protein.” How can I overcome my congregation’s resistance?
The lectionary cycle for Lent in Year A includes incredibly rich psalms. As poetry, psalms are full of sights, smells, tastes, touches, and sounds. They are a great launching pad for engaging all our senses in worship. This cycle of prayer stations takes advantage of that opportunity.
This service, entitled “It is Over. It Begins,” was billed as an art-filled evening of remembrance and hope. It included music, poetry, dance, and visual art arranged around the traditional Tenebrae structure centered on the seven sayings of Christ on the cross.
Editor’s Note: While some churches have Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday Easter Vigil services, others find themselves holding one service in which to encapsulate the drama and depth of all that occurred in those three days. It is for that second group of churches that this service is designed. Using Scripture, music, poetry, and art, this service takes the worshiper on a three-day journey from Maundy Thursday to the darkness of the Easter Vigil.
This service is comprised of seven movements, each of which focuses on one of Jesus’ seven last words and consists of a gospel reading, a meditation, and a congregational response. It combines elements traditional to the Stations of the Cross, Tre Ore, and Tenebrae services, as well as a few subtle dramatic devices of the Passion Play.
Maundy Thursday (“Maundy” meaning “mandate” or “command”) remembers the time Jesus spent with his disciples in the upper room. It was there that Jesus gave the ultimate example of being a servant as he washed the disciples’ feet:
A few weeks before Lent, a team from our church got together to discuss how we could use art in our sanctuary to help us reflect more deeply on Jesus’ sacrifice. We have a history of displaying in our sanctuary and our gathering space various pieces of art that is created by teams of adults incorporating the work of children and teens in our congregation. It was our hope that we could once again come up with an art project that would include contributions from children and teens but not be childish.
The two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus on the evening of Easter Sunday are on a journey that began in sorrowful despair at the sudden death of their beloved friend and master. However by the time they reach their destination their outlook is completely transformed into one of light and hope. An unrecognized traveler joins them, and the conversation he holds with them causes their hearts to burn with new insight and excitement. This encounter changes their lives—a journey from blindness to enlightenment, from darkness to sight.
How do we speak in worship? What language do we use? Sometimes the best response is silence, awe, and wonder. Sometimes we need to spring to our feet with joy, raise our hands in praise, and clap with the trees of the field. We speak with unscripted words such as “amen” and “praise the Lord” and with scripted but equally sincere phrases such as “thanks be to God” and “hear our prayer.” And sometimes we speak in poetry.
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