“Let’s review.” Those two words are often heard in the classroom as a day or an hour draws to a close. Those two words also serve as a fitting description of the reason God’s people gather together in worship. From the time the infant church began assembling to “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), Christians have been gathering together to review what Christ has done to save us from sin. Weekly, the central truths of our salvation are repeated in spoken word and song. Annually, the life of Christ and the teachings of Christ are reviewed through the use of the Christian calendar.
Along with much of the Christian Church, many congregations in our synod make use of a three-year lectionary (schedule of Scripture readings, psalms, and verses of the day). That three-year lectionary is set to start over in just a few weeks on December 1, the first Sunday in Advent, Year A.
And so, as we begin the work of developing our next hymnal, we would like to say, “Let’s review.” Starting on December 1, 2013, a three-year collaborative review process will take place. Any congregation in the synod is welcome to participate. The goal is to give the members of the hymnal committee an opportunity to see what the congregations of our synod are doing in worship and to hear the comments they have regarding existing resources.
Here’s how the process will work. On Monday of each week, the pastor and/or other contact person from each participating congregation will receive an email. That email will contain the following items:
- A link to an online form for reviewing the congregation’s worship from the previous Sunday. Basic information about the use of hymns, orders of service, and Scripture readings will be gathered. There will also be an opportunity to offer comments along the way (Example: “The appointed hymn of the day for this week didn’t fit with the scheduled readings as well as hymn ______ would. Please consider changing it.”). Depending on how many comments a person wishes to offer, filling out this form shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
- A link to a summary of the information gathered from the previous week. Each congregation will have the opportunity to benefit from seeing what other congregations are doing. Even if this benefit isn’t realized until the next time that season or Sunday occurs, we hope that this visibility will have an overall, positive impact on congregations’ worship life.
- A brief insight related to one or more of the assigned readings for the coming week. We certainly appreciate the time that this process will take for participating congregations. We would like to express that appreciation by offering something that will hopefully help pastors as they begin to prepare for the following week’s sermon.
Congregations can register for this collaborative, three-year review by submitting some basic information on the hymnal project website. The deadline for registering is November 15, 2013.