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.
Here are eight worship services on the theme of creation. The general idea for the worship services was originally inspired by a seminar with Tim Brown on his book The Seven Pillars of Creation, although the worship services developed in a somewhat different direction than the book.
For each service, you are encouraged to adapt the prayers of the people to fit the needs of your congregation.
Here’s a summary of the themes and Scripture passages for each of the eight services.
This service was originally designed to be a chapel service at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan, during Holy Week, but it could be expanded into a full worship service by adding elements like a sermon, offering, and time of confession/assurance. It could also be adapted for use at any time during the year when there is an emphasis on God’s marvelous creation.
(On stage: Speaker 1 and men’s chorus.)
During Holy Week we often focus on the “red” storyline of Christ’s shed blood offered as atonement for our sins. This is the central message of the cross. However, both before and beyond the cross is a bigger, grander, “greener” story of redemption that highlights the “red” storyline even more.
Honest faith requires expressions of lament. Most of us do not have to ponder too deeply to realize that something is wrong; the world’s not all as it should be. However, this feeling, this sense of discomfort and frustration, is not often expressed in our worship. Shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves honestly in worship, asking God the difficult questions—the ones that keep us up at night due to our lack of satisfying answers?
Over the nearly sixteen years when I was preaching two new sermons every week, I dipped into the Revised Common Lectionary only sporadically. Typically I’d turn to Lectionary texts for Advent or maybe for Lent, especially if I had no fresh ideas for a sermon series. However, since coming to Calvin Seminary seven years ago, I use the Lectionary every week as the basis of the sermon-starter articles some colleagues and I have been posting on the Center for Excellence in Preaching website every Monday morning.
Q:Are there ever instances in which it could be appropriate for people to celebrate the Lord’s Supper using a video feed over the Internet, especially for small rural churches in northern Canada that are separated by miles yet served by only one pastor? Could that be considered a real celebration of the Lord’s Supper?
The following service was designed to be part of an arts week at Regent College. The readings were organized by Stacey Gleddiesmith and Robert Lockridge. The service was coordinated by Stacey with help from Aminah Al-Attas Bradford, Robert Lockridge, and Andrea Tischer. Various Regent College students and faculty members contributed their artistic talents for this service as we sought to exegete and communicate the text of Psalm 22 through various art forms.
Call to worship: Spoken prayer 1
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