Thursday, July 10, 2014

Feasting on the Word Worship Companion -- Review

FEASTING ON THE WORD WORSHIP COMPANION: Liturgies for Year A, Volume 2.  Edited by Kimberly Bracken Long.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.  xiii +281 pages.

              For those who preach from the lectionary there has been increasing treasury of riches that assist in preaching and in planning for worship that connects with that preaching.  Westminster John Knox's Feasting on the Word lectionary commentary series is now complete.  Even as that series has been a blessing to many preachers, WJK Press has chosen to offer those who plan worship a companion edited by Kimberly Bracken Law.  Now available is volume two for Year A, taking us from Trinity Sunday to Reign of Christ Sunday.  The companion is available in a hard back book with CD and as a kindle version. 

          Kimberly Bracken Long serves as editor of this companion, and is Associate Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary.  She is also the author of The Worshiping Body: The Art of Leading Worship. Her editorial team includes six writers who  represent Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, and the United Church of Christ.  This is a distinctly ecumenical/Mainline Protestant venture, though the various pieces will reflect the writers vantage point.       

           Volume two covers Trinity Sunday and the Ordinary Time, beginning with Proper 3.  Because the Revised Common Lectionary provides two different choices of readings from the Hebrew Bible each week, the team has created two sets of liturgical materials for each week depending on whether one uses the semi-continuous or complementary readings.   Long notes in her introduction that different traditions require different forms of prayers, but they focused on elements common to all and then some that were particular to a specific tradition.  Thus, there are prayers of confession and illumination invoking the Holy Spirit for Presbyterians, while Lutherans and Episcopalians require a prayer of the  and prayers for the departed in their intercessions.  Lutherans want language that lifts up law and grace. As a Disciple pastor, I would have loved to have seen a Disciple contributor for we practice weekly communion.  A Post-Communion Prayer for each week would have been appreciated. Regarding the elements that are present, one will find opening words/call to worship, call to confession, prayer of confession, declaration of forgiveness, prayer of the day, prayer for illumination, prayers of intercession, invitation to the offering, prayer of thanksgiving/dedication, charge, and blessing.  Beyond these liturgical materials that can be used as is or modified as needed, the book provides questions for reflection and household prayers for morning and evening.  Permission is given for recopying, as long as credit is given (of course). 

       Additional resources include a set of greetings to begin worship, all Pauline.  There is a general use Eucharistic Prayer and one for All Saints Day.  .  There is also a scripture index that could be useful for those looking for materials matching texts in use, even if one is not following the lectionary  I should not forget the helpful cloth ribbon provided to mark one's place.

          In using the materials, one can simply read from the book or copy into bulletins or into power points.  Long notes that the "texts are arranged in 'sense lines' -- that is, they look more like poems than paragraphs" (p. x).  They have printed the texts in this manner so that "they can pick up phrases quickly, enabling worshipers to pray them with greater understanding."   She requests, therefore, that if reproducing the texts, one keeps the sense lines in place.  

         As with the earlier volume, this volume provides congregations with a diversity of worship materials that are theologically rich.  They can supplement worship materials in denominational worship books or provide the foundation for thoughtful and provocative worship.  Having tried my hand at writing worship materials, I must commend them for their work.  Getting this  right so that others can worship fully is not easy. They have done very well!

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