In This Issue: Worship
“I can’t remember when I last sold a book by Billy Graham or Francis Schaeffer,” said the manager of the bookshop serving the Seminary and College in Fresno. “Students just don’t buy them. But they do buy Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Foster.”
By itself, this does not prove much, but there are other indications that we may look forward to a rediscovery of the classic Christian spiritual disciplines. Is this a “betrayal” of our past or an instinctive return to its roots? Recent scholarship has shown that Medieval mysticism may have been as much the inspiration of the early Anabaptist/Mennonite movement as were the Renaissance humanists and the Protestant reformers.
Renewed concern for the content and shape of our church services is the corporate side of this quest for a more profound celebration of the presence of God.
James Pankratz outlines these concerns in his introductory essay and suggests some of the changes we may need to make.
John Rempel’s historical essay outlines the changing shape of our public services and uncovers the strongly sacramental element in early Mennonite Brethren worship that resulted from a fresh and vivid sense of God’s gracious presence.
An article by Charles Pankratz explores the New Testament texts to discover the nature of the assemblies of the first Christians.
Music has been extraordinarily important in our worship. William Baerg and John Regehr suggest ways to improve our use of the Mennonite Brethren hymnal and call for us to set up a long-range process for its revision. In doing this, they raise provocative questions about the appropriateness of the use we make of music in our worship services.
A review of recent books on corporate worship can guide readers who wish to reflect more deeply on these matters.
The assistance of James Pankratz, Dean of the Mennonite Brethren Bible College, Winnipeg, in the planning and editing of this issue is gratefully acknowledged.