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Daily Scroll

John Wesley’s Directions for Singing in Worship with Commentary (from Select Hymns 1761)

by Darrell A. Harris, D.W.S.

In an era where we can often not hear out own voice and the voices of those next to us, these directions can easily  seem archaic. However, imagined in an unplugged, acoustic context, they readily spring to contemporary life!

   I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

   It is always good to have shared repertoire . . . shared musical touchstones.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

Making Disciples

by Jim Altizer, D.W.S.

Do the services I plan help to make disciples?  It’s a hard question to answer, but since Jesus’ parting shot was to “go make disciples,” I thought I should at least ask. Robert Webber said that, ultimately, we must judge our services by their content, rather than by their style.  So . . . what’s the content of the services I plan?

I’ll assume that whoever is preaching is staying close to the Book, and telling it straight, but what about the rest . . . is THAT stuff contributing to the making of disciples?  Are my people acknowledging Christ in others, or just shaking hands?  Are their corporate prayers full of truth, confession, belief and thanksgiving, or just petition?  Do I design opportunities for worshipers to actually offer themselves, or just throw some money into the bag?  Have I figured out orderly ways for my people to minister to one another, or just be nice to each other?  Is Communion really communal; Eucharist really thanksgiving?  I mean, we Protestants are so proud that we don’t represent Christ as still hanging on the cross, so why do my Communion services feel so much like a funeral?

Trinitarian Worship, Part 1

by the Reverend Berten Waggoner, M.Div.

The God we worship is a Trinitarian God. We know no other God than the one revealed in Jesus Christ - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. John Calvin put it well, “unless we think — of God as Trinitarian we have no knowledge of God at all, only the Word “God” flutters through our brain naked, and void of meaning.”  (Quoted by Leonard Hodgson, The Doctrine of the Trinity, p.15)

The triune God is the boast of the Christian faith.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge called the doctrine of the trinity the “idea of ideas.” “It is,” he said, “that great truth, in which are contained all treasures of all possible knowledge. (Colin Gunton, The One, The Three and The Many, p. 144)” The truth of the Trinity is priceless, and incomparable. It is a teaching about God’s life and our life with him that explores worship, relationship, personhood, and community in light of the revelation in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Trinitarian Worship, Part 2

by the Reverend Berten Waggoner M.Div.

In Part 1 of “Trinitarian Worship” The Reverend Berten Waggoner showed the importance of the Trinity quoting from sources as diverse as John Calvin, Percy Bysche Shelley, Colin Gunton and Karl Rahner. And he showed that the erosion of the focus of the Trinity in worship is not only the responsibility of theologians but also of worship leaders. Here he continues . . .

Psalm 84: The Sparrow's Nest

by Carla Waterman, Ph.D.

I once read an indignant commentary on Psalm 84:3. The writer was appalled at the suggestion that messy birds would be allowed anywhere near the altar of God, let alone make their home there.  I laughed as I thought, “Oh dear friend, hast thou not a poetic imagination?” Apparently not. I find the imagery beautiful:

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts.

Careening Carrots and Welcoming Worship

by Carla Waterman, Ph.D.

There was no doubt that I was somewhere completely “other” from the moment I got off the plane. It wasn’t just the endless sun that never seemed to set as I continued to fly west and west and more west.  It was the spicy air and the curved bent of an alphabet that had as many rounded flourishes as the architecture. It was filing through Customs behindthe wizened Buddhist monk with bare feet and a brown mustard colored robe. The word “Orient” wafted to the top of my sleep-deprived brain. I was in Bangkok.

Connecting God’s People to the Transforming Power of Worship

Church historians note that cycles of spiritual regeneration are typically preceded by a collective yearning for a deeper experience of celebrating and glorifying the Creator and His saving works. While we cannot, from a human perspective, predict when the Holy Spirit will next spark revival fires, declining attendance and apathy toward community outreach paint a bleak picture of the modern church’s condition – despite decades of church growth programs instituted among all the major denominations.