Thursday, March 05, 2015

Feasting on the Word Worship Companion -- Year B, Volume 2 (Book Note)

FEASTING ON THE WORD WORSHIP COMPANION: Liturgies for Year B, Volume 2.  Edited by Kimberly Bracken Long.  Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015. xiii + 277.

The season following Pentecost Sunday is often known as Ordinary Time, although it begins and ends with two important theological observances -- Trinity Sunday and Reign of Christ Sunday.  It is a long journey, but it is a fruitful one.  Having expertly crafted worship materials is always a blessing, and the next volume in the Feasting on the Word Worship Companion series is now available.  This volume is the second for Year B, and as with the previous volumes in this series that accompanies the now complete Feasting on the Word lectionary commentary series, it is edited by Kimberly Bracken Long.   

          In addition to editing the worship companions for the Feasting on the Word series, Kimberly Bracken Long is Associate Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary.  She is also the author of The Worshiping Body: The Art of Leading Worship and The Eucharistic Theology of the American Holy Fairs,  both of which are published by WJK Press. Her editorial team includes six writers who  represent Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, and the United Church of Christ. This is a distinctly ecumenical/Mainline Protestant venture, though the various pieces will reflect the faith expressions of each of the writers.        

           Volume two for Year B provides worship materials for the period running from Trinity Sunday to Reign of Christ Sunday.  During this season the lectionary provides two tracks of readings from the Hebrew Bible -- a Semi-continuous and a Complementary set. With that in mind, the worship companion provides two sets of worship materials for each week.  As Long notes in her introduction, each Protestant tradition has its own distinct forms of prayer, but keeping with the ecumenical nature of this resource the focus will be on those elements that are held in common. Though there is some effort to give expression to some of the diversity of expression. 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.  In addition one will find a Thanksgiving for Baptism and Eucharistic prayers for general use and for both Reign of Christ Sunday and All Saints Day.  

          The volume provides a selection of materials each week, including a call to worship/opening words, a 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).  
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 addition a CD is provided to aid in copying and pasting the materials in bulletins, with acknowledgment provided.

          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 volumes, the latest volume provides worship planners with theologically rich materials that are expressive of an ecumenical Protestant understanding of the Christian faith.  For those who have denominationally provided worship books, this volume can provide supplementary materials or simply serve as the foundation for building worship services.  From experience with previous volumes, I can share that these materials are well written and spiritually provocative. 

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