creative ideas

Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Summer can often feel like an ordinary, even dull, part of the church year. Choirs are usually on break, and there may be a dip in church attendance.

In fact, the time between Pentecost and Advent, as well as the time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, is known as “Ordinary Time” in some Christian denominations to distinguish the “ordinary” parts of the year from seasons of celebration (like Christmas) and penitence (like Lent).

But Ordinary Time doesn’t have to mean ordinary worship. Fortunately, there are many creative, musical ways to make the “everyday” season of the year special and meaningful in its own way.

Four Creative, Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Easter

Four Creative, Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Easter

Easter is one of the most joyous, celebratory, hope-filled Sundays of the church year. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection, the fulfillment of the prophecies, and the hope of everlasting life to come.

All of these things make Easter Sunday the perfect time to pull out all the stops (so to speak). From handbell choirs to soprano descants, brass ensembles to fanfares, there are lots of things you can plan to match the joyful spirit of the day and speak to the hope we celebrate.

But, there’s something more to the Easter story. That first Easter morning was a surprise.

Yes, Jesus had been talking about his death and resurrection (in metaphor) leading up to that day, but no one really understood what he meant. No one could comprehend what would happen. Especially after he was dead and buried in the tomb.

10 Creative Ways to Use Handbells in Worship

10 Creative Ways to Use Handbells in Worship

One of my favorite parts of worship planning is finding creative ways to incorporate music into the services. From introits to benediction responses, prayer responses, transitions, and even underscoring.

Handbells are a great way to do this!

Over the past few years, SD and I have come up with several creative, meaningful ways to include handbells in worship, beyond the traditional prelude or anthem slot. We recently inherited a bell choir at church, so I’m revisiting some creative, out-of-the-box from our past experiences and coming up with a few new ideas for our group this spring.

I mean, who said you have to have tables and foam and covers and special folders and notebook stands to play? We're breaking with tradition and using handbells in a whole new way.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Lenten Services

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Lenten Services

Lent, as a season, is about reflecting, simplifying, cleansing. It’s about searching our hearts, forgiveness, and grace. It’s also about love and freedom and growth.

It’s a time we remember Jesus being tempted in the desert for 40 days (hence the reason Lent is 40 days long), teaching the people about God’s love and how we should love others, breaking bread with his disciples, and living out God’s will for his life.

In Lent, we refocus on the renewing waters of baptism, the cleansing river, the fountain of grace.

Some say that the Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days; rather, they are considered celebration days or “little Easters" (source). But I think this is missing the point a little: Lent is a journey, a time of self-reflection and examination of the heart, a time when we invite God in to do the work of shaping us and molding us into His likeness.

It’s a process, and it takes time.

How can we create space for this in worship? How can we make this season more meaningful? How can we capture the quietness, the self-reflection, the invitation to come just as we are in our Lenten services? 

Singing the Psalms: A Guide for Modern Worship

Singing the Psalms: A Guide for Modern Worship

The book of Psalms plays an important role in worship, acting as both a Scripture reading and an act of musical praise. After all, many of the psalms were written as songs. In fact, the word psalm comes the Greek psalmos, meaning "song sung to harp music."

There are many resources available to us today that facilitate singing psalms in worship, including the United Methodist Hymnal (UMH), the Lutheran Book of Common Worship and Book of Common Worship - Daily Prayer, the Anglican Chant Psalter, the Concordia Psalter, and the online Psalter resource, featuring five psalter collections using familiar hymn tunes with recordings and searchable indexes.