return to religion-online

Worship /Liturgy

  1. A Liberating Word in Water by William Willimon

    Far from being an outmoded vestige of a naive liturgical past, baptism is devastatingly contemporary -- a revolutionary manifesto that subverts many of the values on which we have sold ourselves in the past few years.

  2. A Liturgical Stategy: Four Lines of Attack by James F. White

    Ignorance and indifference are the primary obstacles that inhibit revitalization of worship in American churches. We have four lines of attack: seminaries, denominational agencies, workshops and publications. At present none of these is fully mobilized, and none is likely to be until worship receives a higher priority in the allocation of personnel and finances in the denominations and institutions of American Christianity.

  3. A Local Display of World Communion by Robert W. Wall

    How a small yet significant development in interracial relations in a congregation came to a climax on World Wide Communion Sunday.

  4. A Matter of Taste? by Frank Burch Brown

    Centuries of European tradition and Christian habit are deliberately being abandoned to clear the way for new, contemporary forms of worship and belonging. But the possibility that a relatively casual and unchallenging style might be all there is to a communityís worship life is bound to be deflating to those whose call to discipleship and cause them to yearn for something more in aesthetic formation and development.

  5. A Protestant Worship Manifesto by James F. White

    The prophetic and priestly modes come together in worship. The service shapes Christians to do justice. Worship’s chief contribution to justice is persistence. We receive God’s self-giving regularly, enabling us to give.

  6. A Tale of Two Sundays: Liturgical Reform Gone Astray by Frederick J. Parrella

    Dr. Parrella, a Catholic, concludes that something is deeply amiss in Catholic eucharistic celebrations -- a liturgical identity crisis that has escaped our attention.

  7. A Theology of Church Music by F. Thomas Trotter

    Trotter presents nine paragraphs detailing how and why church music uniquely preserves the theological heritage of the church. Church musicians thus deserve recognition for their role in theological work.

  8. Altar or Table by Richard Lischer

    The altar is both the place of death and our shelter from it. It may be possible to demythologize, existentialize, structuralize or moralize the biblical picture of sacrifice, but not without a substantial loss -- the loss of the substance of sacrifice itself and all that it has meant to Christian theology and ethics.

  9. At the Last Supper by Frederick Buechner

    Our task is to try to draw near to Jesus and to each other. By believing against all odds and loving against all odds -- that is how we are to let Jesus show in the world and transform the world.

  10. Back to the Future: Fourth-Century Style Reaches Bay Area Seekers by Trudy Bush

    St. Gregoryís (of Nysssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco) highly participatory worship may not be for everyone, but it would be hard not to be moved by this congregationís way of continuing the long conversation God has had with humanity.

  11. Beyond the Polarization: Grace and Surprise in Worship by Peter W. Marty

    Can we break out of our own comfort zone in worship to exprience other faithful forms? If the grace of God is as extraordinary as we say it is, we should be willing to give surprise a chance.

  12. Caught in the Act: Praise and Renewal in the Church by Leander E. Keck

    Why has so much of mainline Protestantism become joyless? Perhaps we are more impressed by the problems of the world than the power of God. Perhaps we think everything depends on us; that surely ought to make us depressed.

  13. Church Music in the ‘90s: Problems and Prognoses by Carl Schalk

    Churches in the ‘90s will rely heavily on the historic experience of the church at worship.

  14. Church Vesture as Art by Erwin M. Soukup

    A personal perspective on the liturgical significance of clerical garb: The norms of ceremony and rite encourage the use of the finest materials to express the intangible. The use of artistic expression to enhance the words and movements of the ritual is inseparable from the human need to be creative.

  15. Communion as a Culinary Art by William Willimon

    Willimon discusses the culinary art of communion from his viewpoint as a worshiper, a bread-baker, and an assistant professor of liturgy and worship. Only as we ministers rediscover the joy of inviting people to a bountiful table which we have helped prepare will we be able truly to invite people to the Feast which Christ prepares.

  16. Contemplative Worship by Diana Butler Bass

    Diana Bass describes the forms of contemplative worship in two churches: "Holy Communion" and "Calvin." These churches are full of normal, struggling people who are rediscovering God in meditative, centering, reflective silence.

  17. Courage to Respond by Samuel Wells

    The needs of the worshipper are met in four ways: 1. The confessing of their sins. 2. The receiving of absolution for their sins. 3. They learn to separate pain from sin. 4. They pause to hear Godís voice.

  18. Dreaming of New Forms and Utterances: Seeds by Richard F. Ward

    For many, ritual represents the very thing we are trying to escape, that is, boring repetition which leads to a lifeless expression of faith. The purpose of this essay is to juxtapose ritual and boredom within the culture shaped by telecommunications, and to formulate a response.

  19. Eating and Drinking with Jesus by Arthur C. Cochrane

    The author challenges traditional Christian thinking about the Lordís supper as a "sacrament" to be set apart from secular eating and drinking.

  20. From Songs of Protest to Hymns of Praise by L. Catherine Cook

    The devoutly religious John Michael Talbot turned from folk-rock music to the life of a Franciscan monk and remains an incomparable singer and guitarist -- though a devoutly religious one. He spends half of his time in retreat and half in ministry.

  21. Godís Love, Motherís Milk by Margaret R. Miles

    The author presents the earlier but lost symbol of the lactating breast of the Virgin Mother as a more satisfactory symbol of Godís love than that of the later and more common presentation of the violence of the crucifixion.

  22. Good Grief! An Undertakerís Reflections by Thomas Lynch

    A funeral without the dead body has the significance of Job without the sores, or Calvary without the cross.

  23. Handshake Ritual by Martin B. Copenhaver

    The preacher can learn a lot while shaking hands at the close of worship. The word has been spoken, so now it is time to listen to what the responses and needs of the listeners might be.

  24. Holy Fire in Jerusalem by Thomas A. Idinopulos

    Piety should not be confused with spirituality, inwardness, reflection – the stuff of which theology is made. Piety is direct and sensuous: – seeing fire, kissing stones, touching water.

  25. Hymnologists in an Age of Prose by Jean Caffey Lyles

    Hymn writers and other worshipers find themselves aliens is a period of social, theological and liturgical turmoil; Christians are discovering that they cannot, as Peter Gomes has said, “continue living off the dividends of the piety of generations long past.”

  26. I Smell the Cup by John Howard Spahr

    Very real problems are posed by fermented communion wine for clergy (and laypeople) who are alcoholics. The overriding consideration is: if the alcoholic drinks the fermented communion wine, he or she gains absolutely nothing and risks losing everything.

  27. In Defense of ďLordĒ in Liturgy by James R. Adams

    Adams explains why both logic and language suggest that we retain the use of "Lord" in liturgy until we can find a better word than "God" as a substitute.

  28. Justice and Liberation in the Eucharist by Brian Wren

    The practice of the Eucharist has become so ritualized and privatized that it has lost much of its meaning -- meaning which an examination of its original practice can help us recover. To confront death is to witness to and collaborate with the love that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

  29. Keeping Sabbath: Reviving a Christian Practice by Dorothy C. Bass

    The Sabbath is not just a matter of law and liturgy. It is a time that opens up a space for God. On the Sabbath we celebrate the world as it is. We remember that the grain grows without the work of human hands.

  30. Making a Real Return to Church Possible by Paul G. Johnson

    Many people may feel disillusioned with church worship services, especially when our worship words say one thing but our experience says something else. The words and songs of worship must be translated to current idiom and music.

  31. Making the Invisible Visible: Russian Icons of the Golden Age by Laurel Gasque

    In her review of an exhibition of Russian Orthodox icons at Juniata College, Laurel Gasque addresses the relative ignorance of most western Christians, and indeed the artistic community in general, about sacred icons not only as art, but also as a liturgical and devotional aid. While summarizing the history of icons, she clarifies their place in Orthodox theology as an attempt to relate the spiritual world to the world of here and now - indeed to make the invisible visible.

  32. Meditation as a Subversive Activity by Sarah Coakley

    The author found that a few moments of focused silence amid the noise and violence in a modern jail imparted spiritual power.

  33. Moving Christian Worship Toward Social Justice by James F. White

    The author suggests a four-step process by which the worship of the congregation can be made more truly inclusive of all worshippers.

  34. Our Apostasy in Worship by James F. White

    If we have been delinquent in the use of God’s Word in our worship, we have been equally careless with God’s sacraments. In worship both conservatives and liberals tend to reshape Scripture in their own images, and both consistently humanize the sacraments.

  35. Peyote, Wine and the First Amendment by Douglas Laycock

    Oregon’s disapproval of peyote use, even under controlled conditions, does not provide a compelling reason to forbid a religious ritual.

  36. PowerPointless by Debra Dean Murphy

    Microsoftís PowerPoint used on the big screen in worship, overpowers the worshiper with its content that disrupts and trivializes the center of worship.

  37. Reading Scripture Aloud by Richard F. Ward

    This essay is directed at lay persons and pastors who need to encourage full participation in the worship ministries of their congregation. It deals with proper techniques of oral interpretation for a biblical passage.

  38. Reality and Resonance: The Church Turns Toward Worship by F. Thomas Trotter

    Worship is enjoying even more of a resurgence today than in 1974 when this piece was published. Trotter’s assessment of that "reality and resonance" are the keys to worship is perhaps even more pertinent today. Trotter even suggests three "diseases" of modern reactions to worship of God which bear careful attention. The hunger for transcendence may be a yearning for the "resonance of reality in our lives." What an insightful proposal!

  39. Reconciled in Worship by Ryan J. Jack McDermott

    Whether mainline or evangelical, we can, and should, meet in the intimate fellowship of prayer and liturgy.

  40. Sent Out by Samuel Wells

    The mission statement of the church is to make the world a Eucharist: the gathering of people as one body, opening lives to repentance and forgiveness, proclaiming the truth of Godís story, the sharing of food and the washing of feet. These are the embodiment of worship.

  41. Sharing Faith Stories in Worship by Lillian Daniel

    Lillian Daniel discusses the shortcomings of unplanned congregational input but argues positively for it. If one is willing to face the unpredictable and to release some control, it is in the very release of that control the blessings come.

  42. Sing a New Song by John Bell

    Multiple insights and challenges are given here by John Bell concerning the proper use and misuse of singing in worship. Congregational singing shapes our identity. Thus the importance of its substance.

  43. Stopping by the Pit Stop by Gracia Grindal

    We speak much these days of the importance of the physical elements in Jesus’ life. That is style. Any good writer knows that good writing -- style -- intensifies meaning. And if any people should be concerned about intensifying meaning, it should be the people of God.

  44. Sunday Monarchists and Monday Citizens? by William Johnson Everett

    If we are to be faithful to a biblical perspective, we need to re-examine the language of worship when it no longer speaks the language of governance by which we live.

  45. The Bread of Life for the Life of the World by J. Robert Nelson

    Christís presence is real presence. This must be reiterated, because an unreal presence is no presence at all. "For Christ is our life" (Col. 3:4). Even as Jesus Christ is "really present" in us, and especially in the context of the sacrament, so we are "really present" in him. Because of this belief, Christians of many communions are moving toward consensus on interpretation of the Eucharist.

  46. The Case for Catechism by Richard R. Osmer

    The leaders of the Reformation had some good reasons to foster catechetical instruction. So do we. After almost a century of experience-based education, how well do mainline Protestants know the faith?

  47. The Closet, the House and the Sanctuary by Charles M. Olsen

    Each worship setting is unique, and people need to have access to more than one. Let the sanctuary stick to its role of the public and corporate recital of the drama of grace. Then let us find ways to train sensitive lay leaders who can enable house worship. And let us also encourage and support those persons and groups that are providing spiritual direction for solitude,

  48. The Living Word: Dance as a Language of Faith by Kathleen Kline-Chesson

    Dance as a liturgical form and a means of worship.

  49. The Practical Life of the Church Musician by Paul Westermeyer

    The role of the church musician is not to satisfy the musical desires of everyone in the congregation -- a practical, theological description of the church musician’s vocation.

  50. The Whole World Singing: A Journey to Iona and Taizé by Belden C. Lane

    The Taizé and Iona communities are very much alive. Both are based on a rule and a common life of prayer that joins work and worship in a Benedictine pattern. And yet they are extremely different.

  51. Thoughts on Smashing Idols: Church Music in the Ď80s by Carl Schalk

    The church has always struggled to maintain the connection between two terms: the dogma (or teaching), and the doxa (or praise). Perhaps we all need to remind each other that dogma and doxa are best held together when the church sees itself first of all as a worshiping community, that orthodoxy means "right praise."

  52. To Animate the Body of Christ: Sarah Bentley Talks About Sacred Dance by Jean Caffey Lyles

    In many ways dance is the re-creation of sheer pleasure in being alive -- something we don’t have in our formal liturgies. We need to push the bounds more so that religious dance isn’t trapped in conventions of beauty or harmony or ‘nice’ emotions. Dance and movement are different ways of knowing -- about oneself, one's world and one's ultimate reality.

  53. Virtual Worship by Mark U. Edwards, Jr.

    The author looks at "Zchurch" -- online. The body of Christ is not confined to time or space, but it is not virtual. It is transcendent.

  54. Where the Reformation Was Wrong on Worship by James F. White

    When the reformers rebelled against prevailing worship practices, justifiable anger at contemporary abuses often led them to eliminate things of genuine value. Churches need to re-establish the Eucharist as a thankful celebration of God’s works.

  55. Where Two or More Are Gathered: Exploring Alternative Worship Strategies by Bradley Sowash

    The author suggests ways to conduct a creative "alternative" worship experience.

  56. Worship at the U2charist by Jason Byassee

    Maybe this music actually represents the mainline church at its best, about a merciful God, one not above the fray but down in the mess with us.

  57. Worship’s Focus: Seeking the Face of God by Mark Horst

    "Experience" should not be the aim of services of worship. The phrase "worship experience" suggest that worship is important because it induces feelings. In this context worship is focused more on the worshiper than on the One worshiped.