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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.

“But the Sons of Korah Did Not Die”

Their role was to encircle the tent. The Levites were to be human insulation: both protecting the priests and the holy things from unclean contamination from without and protecting the people in the camp from holy retribution from within.

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.

Ancient of Days (mp3)

Ancient of Days


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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?

The Arts and the Imago Dei, Part I

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule [KJV says “have dominion”] over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  So God created man in his own image,…” Genesis 1:26.

The Power and Purpose of A Cappella Singing in Congregational Song, Part 1

by Eric Wyse
An Historical Look at Singing in Worship

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, congregational song has been an important part of the worship service; and for much of Church history, the primary instrument utilized was the unaccompanied human voice. Since the Middle Ages, the addition of musical instruments for accompaniment to the human voice has increasingly diminished the role of a cappella congregational singing. And today, in the ever-changing landscape of modern Church music–whether traditional, contemporary or an convergence of styles–there seems to be little room for the chorus of human voices, unaccompanied by any instrument, singing together in worship of God.  What is the importance of unaccompanied singing in the worship community? Why has this ancient form been virtually lost in modern practice, and can it be restored in the context of 21st century Christianity? These timely questions must be asked, and then answered satisfactorily, if the Church desires to corporately worship Almighty God in a more meaningful and excellent way.

Help! I'm Leading by Example (And I'm Not a Very Good One)

by Chris Beatty

A choir director recently called me and said, “Help! I’m leading by example and I’m not a very good one!”

We all do it.
We all lead by example. It’s just the way things work. Our children learn how to speak by imitating those who raise them. That can be good, or that can be bad. Our singers are watching and listening to our vocal and musical guidance and that, also, can be good . . . or bad, depending on what we are doing.

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.

Our Father in Heaven

Contemporary Language
Version of The Lord's Prayer
by Eric Wyse Our Father in Heaven