“Remember Me:” Worship, Stuff, and the Communion of Saints

Like most congregations, the church that I attend has our Sunday hymns projected onto the screen at the front of the building. This has been very helpful for several members who struggle with eyesight problems. But unlike some congregations, we’ve kept our hymnals in the pew as well. I always like to hold the hymnal in my hand and sing along that way—usually because the projected songs don’t have shape notes, which is the only way I can read music, but also so I can reflect on the words of the songs we’re singing. On a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago I took the hymnal from the back of the pew in front of me in preparation for the opening … [Read more...]

“Why, O My Soul, Are You sorrowing?” The Story Behind Psalm 43 in Timeless

This is the second in the series of stories behind some of the songs from Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today Psalter/Commentary. It was written by Gary Pendergrass of Greenville, Texas, and is a gripping story of how a lament psalm ministered to him during his son’s near fatal cardiac arrest in the hospital.   … [Read more...]

The Thessalonian Church: A Cause for Rejoicing

Paul tells the Thessalonians to "always rejoice" (I Thess. 5:16).  How could they always rejoice?  How can we?  … [Read more...]

Tribute to my Father

I lost my father Glover Shipp four months ago. He was 88, and had suffered for some time from congestive heart failure. His passing was not unexpected; we knew he had anywhere from days to weeks to live. But no matter what you know rationally, it is always a shock to learn someone has really passed away. I was “on duty” the night he passed. He called out for me twice during the night, to adjust his oxygen flow. I couldn’t fix it. Several hours later he called out again, needing the oxygen. I searched the machine and its parts, but could find no way to increase airflow through the tube. That conversation with my father about his air was the … [Read more...]

Liturgy, a Heartfelt Script

Most Churches of Christ are accustomed to what might be called a “low-church” style of worship.  The phrase “low-church” can mean a variety of things, but it certainly includes the idea that words should be, or at least should appear to be, unscripted.  Prayers especially should be extemporaneous.  The assumption is that a written prayer that is read cannot be heartfelt.  Is this right? The impulse in Churches of Christ to shun a scripted liturgy is one that goes back to the Protestant Reformation.  At the dawn of the Reformation, the worst liturgical displays of the Western Church featured priests mumbling prayers … [Read more...]