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Advent – Seasonal Resources 1

One month until Advent 1!

This is part 1 of 2, listing a variety of online resources that pertain to worship during the Season of Advent.  If you have other resources that you would like to share, please forward to me for inclusion in Part 2, which will be posted next week.

Today, we also include a link for planning the Christmas pageant – as the planning happens now, and in many of our communities, the pageant takes place during the season of Advent.

Webinar:  Rebooting Advent – Preparing Hearts

In this webinar we focus on what churches and formation leaders can do during Advent, sharing ideas and tips for how to meet your congregation where they are and journey with them. We talk big picture thinking and then move to practical ideas for Advent programs and events.

At the same link, you will find a list of resources on topics such as:  Advent Theology and Themes (Planning), Households and Congregations, Advent Wreaths and Children’s Books.

Where Two or Three are Gathered:  Worship for Small Assemblies

In this latest offering from the Program Committee for Worship of the ELCIC, Saskatchewan representative, Rev. Sean Bell, highlights that the four Sundays of Advent take us on a journey:

Dec. 2: Luke’s Gospel calls us to ‘be on guard’ and ‘be alert at all times’.
Dec. 9 We meet John the Baptist… the one who points… the one who shows the way.

Dec. 16 John calls us to hope.
Dec. 23 Mary sings her song of love, and it’s revolutionary.

Christmas Pageant Ideas, Tips, and Scripts

Building Faith has compiled a number of different scripts and helps for all sizes of churches.  Enjoy finding the one that fits your needs.

Remembrance Day Conversations

A few weeks ago, a number of reflections and resources

on the topic of Remembrance Day were posted on this blog site. In response, the following email was received.  This personal reflection helps us to see Remembrance Day from yet another perspective.  Thank you, Rev. Stephen Larson for sharing your story and the link to the “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain.

Stephen writes:

Let me suggest another resource for Remembrance Day — although one that is probably more useful in an adult or youth education or retreat setting. Although I have used it as a three person reading as a homily in campus ministry and Lutheran Church of Geneva (Switzerland) worship settings.  It’s entitled “The War Prayer” and was written by Mark Twain around 1905, as an anti-war parable.  The published copy I have of it explains that Twain felt it was so controversial, however, that he directed it not to be published until after his death.

The text may be found at  http://www.people.vcu.edu/~toggel/prayer.pdf    The short story is set in the context of a church worship service in a country patriotically headed to war.  It’s very strong.

Back in my seminary days in the States, during the Vietnam War, Twain’s “The War Prayer” was a helpful resource for me on my faith journey to declaring myself a conscientious objector to war.


Stephen Larson

ELCIC Bulletins

ELCIC Bulletin covers are now available for ordering.

The theme of the pictures on the covers is People in Mission, reflecting the multiple ways people in the ELCIC are In Mission for Others.  The bulletins include all the lectionary readings, the liturgical Day, and a Gospel Conversation, in the appropriate liturgical colour.

This is one of the ways we can acknowledge our unity as a church – knowing that across our church, the gathered people are reading and reflecting on the same words and images.  For more information see:





The following events are being held in the Kitchener – Waterloo, Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto areas, as well as information about the upcoming Institute of Liturgical Studies being held in Indiana.

Also, did you know The Center for Congregational Song just launched their podcast? It’s called “Voices United: A Congregational Song Podcast” and is hosted by Ben Brody. Thanks for the inspiring title idea, United Church of Canada! Episode three, which is the latest episode to be released, is an interview with Deer Park Associate Professor of Sacred Music (and therefore honorary Canadian), Lim Swee Hong.

Check out the podcast at: https://congregationalsong.org/conversations/podcast-voices-united/


October 25 – 28 

At St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ottawa, ON:  “Becoming Communities of Transformation”

The weekend, hosted by the Anglican Studies Program Saint Paul University, and Saint Matthew’s Anglican Church and supported by the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa and the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will include the sharing of and leadership of liturgical rites, small group formation, theological reflection, formation for leaders, faith conversation and listening skills fellowship and opportunity for ongoing access to resources and community dialogue.

Training is open and welcomes all denominations. Parish teams of 3 or more are encouraged to participate and experience these paths and tools for becoming welcoming, forming, sending communities in its worship, reflection, prayer and ministry.

For more information and to register, click here.


October 27 –

Inshallah “Singing the Circle Wide” – Join the Inshallah singing community for a day of singing and exploring the repertoire of the Inshallah songbook, Sing the Circle Wide: Songs of faith from around the world.  Workshops on instrumentation, signing, movement, context and leadership.  Saturday, October 27; 9:00 – 3:00; Waterloo North Mennonite Church.  Cost: $20.00, includes lunch.  To register or for more information, contact Kathryn Smith at admin@inshallah.ca, or 519-822-4097.


November 4 –


On All Saints’ Sunday, November 4th, at 7:00 pm, the Leupold Chorale will host the Liturgy of Compline, enhanced by choral music of the season, to mark the Feast of All Saints. Please join us at Mount Zion Lutheran Church, 29 Westmount Road South, Waterloo. Founded in 2009, the Leupold Chorale strives to foster and preserve the performance of the music of the Lutheran Church and the continental Reformation, the early music of other Christian traditions, and other sacred music rarely heard today.

A broken hallelujah of  defiance, anger and hope.
Led by Andrew and Wendy Donaldson
with performances, readings, prayers and call-and-response singing, this is a shout-out against the violence and fear promoted by some of our world leaders, and an affirmation of welcome, justice and hope.
Spiritual but not dogmatic, it draws from various faith traditions, and eclectic musical styles (freedom songs, protest songs).

Church of the Holy Trinity, 19 Trinity Square, behind the Eaton Centre
Refreshments 2:30  Program: 3:00


November 18 – 

An official RCCO event. Music Therapist, Rebekah Jordan-Miller will be offering a session on Musicians and Mental Health in the afternoon that day. Rebekah holds a DMA in piano performance and a Masters in Music Therapy. More information to follow. In the meantime, check out her biography here.


April 29 – May 1, 2019

TABLE OF THANKSGIVING: HOW EUCHARIST FORMS US You are invited to register for the seventy-first Institute of Liturgical Studies, Table of Thanksgiving: How Eucharist Forms Us.  We will gather on the campus of Valparaiso University from April 29 – May 1, 2019.  Plenary Speakers:
  • Charles Arand
  • Paul Bradshaw
  • M. Shawn Copeland
  • Cynthia Moe-Lobeda
Online registration is now open!  Visit www.valpo.edu/ils for more information.  We look forward to seeing you next spring!  Early Bird Registration ends January 31, 2019. Send me information on events happening in your area, and I will include in the next monthly Upcoming Events.  Send to esworshipblog@gmail.com

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Alternate text

Last year, during the Reformation 500 celebrations, 

it is possible that “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was sung more times, and in more places than ever before.  It is important to note that Martin Luther wrote the original words for this hymn for a particular time and a particular place.  500 years later, Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson, professor at Martin Luther University College (formerly Waterloo Lutheran Seminary) penned an alternate text to this familiar hymn tune.  These words were first sung at the 2017 Reformation Open Door service at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and then at the synod announcement of the newly named Martin Luther University College in June 2018.

Allen shares his thoughts on the lyrics – both the original and the alternate.

“Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress’ is a lyrical adaption of Psalm 46.  In it, Luther takes the psalm’s metaphor of God as a fortress and illustrates the implications of this for Christians in his time.  For the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses, said by some to mark the beginning of the Reformation, I wrote new lyrics to the traditional tune of this famous hymn.  These lyrics take up Luther’s interest in metaphors for God.  Metaphors are poetic pictures that illustrate a truth about God without pretending that the image is exhaustive, or philosophically rigorous.  Metaphors are evocative.  The three I chose are God as poet, midwife and painter.  God as a poet points to God’s creative power.  God as midwife points to God’s loving care.  God as painter points to God’s inspiring power.  This is seen in the phrase ‘God brooks no hesitation.’  The verb brook means to allow, or put up with.  The metaphor imagines God as a painter so taken up in the creative energy of the moment, that God cannot stop until this energy has been put on canvas.  My hope is that just as Luther inspired me to consider other metaphors for God, my words will inspire you to consider metaphors that speak to your experience of God.”

Here are Allen’s new lyrics to this familiar tune.  Please note that they were written for the rhythmic version of the hymn, which can be found in EvLW #503.

EIN FESTE BURG – Jorgenson

100th Anniversary of Remembrance Day

This year, we experience that interesting phenomenon

when Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday.  Is this a day we celebrate in our Sunday morning gatherings?  Is it a day we tolerate as part of the pastoral ministry to the gathered people?  How do we, as God’s children, remember Remembrance Day?

To help worship leaders navigate this day within their own assembly gatherings, the Program Committee for Worship asked Lt(N) Rev. Michael Macintyre, ELCIC pastor, serving as Chaplain, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry to prepare Worship Resources for the 100th Anniversary of Remembrance Day,

In addition to this ELCIC resource, over the years, a number of other people have added their voice to this discussion.  For those of you who would like to dig deeper into this conversation, I offer these other articles and blogs to help you think, reflect, discuss and pray about the church’s role in remembering Remembrance Day.

In 2009, Liturgy Canada published an entire issue on this topic, including articles by Rev. Paul Bosch, Marilyn Malton, and a variety of personal reflections.  This particular Liturgy Canada issue offers a wide range of opinions.  Then editor, The Rev. Peter Wall, Dean of Christ’s Church Cathedral (Anglican) for the Diocese of Niagara offers these words:  “We are not trying to persuade any to hold to any position nor to take any particular action, save some important critical thinking – asking questions, praying, talking with others.”

Liturgy Canada, Issue 47, Volume X11, #3, Remembrance Day

Also found on the Liturgy Canada website is a blog posting by Christian Schreiner, on his thoughts regarding Remembrance Day –  A German Lutheran reflects on Remembrance Day in Canada

And finally, Music Minister Ginny Chilton Maxwell offers her insights into using “patriotic music” for congregational singing.  Although opposed to the singing of patriotic music and hymns in church, she offers reflections about her journey and the people who have influenced her.  Her posting is from the website: Sing! The Centre for Congregational Song, a great resource for all things related to congregational song.

Patriotic Music on Sunday Morning: Yes or No?

I encourage you to add your voice to the conversation, by sharing your comments, or emailing me at esworshipblog@gmail.com

Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Fall 2018 Year B Resources are now available

The Program Committee for Worship of the ELCIC

has commissioned Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies, a series of worship outlines for the seasons of the church year using Evangelical Lutheran Worship as the primary resource.  Each weeks’ worship orders include options for Holy Communion and Service of the Word.

We hope you find these outlines helpful in your worship planning.

New worship resources for October and November are now online, including suggestions for Thanksgiving, Reformation, and All Saints Sunday.  These outlines support worship in the congregations and ministries of the ELCIC and partner churches by providing information and ideas supplementary to other print and online sources.

Find them on the Worship website of the ELCIC at:  http://www.worship.ca .


Reflections on the National Worship Conference

The Anglican Lutheran National Worship Conference

held in Victoria BC this past July offered a variety of opportunities for participants to enter into the theme of the conference, “Responding to Disaster – Prayer, Song, Presence”, through plenary sessions, worship, workshops, and social gatherings.  Clergy, laity, Anglicans, Lutherans, ecumenical partners, and all who attended, were challenged by our keynote speaker, Lizette Larson-Miller, an Anglican priest and the Huron Lawson professor at Huron University College of the University of Western Ontario.  Chad Fothergill, our conference musician, offered musical insights during our worship, as well as challenging us with the psalms of lament.

Two of the conference attendees offer here their diverse reflections on attending the National Worship Conference.  Pastor David Malina touches on the theme, “Are we ready?  Are we pastors and worship leaders prepared to offer liturgies and prayers at times of heartbreaking disasters, which help us absorb, process through, and respond to disasters when they eventually happy, both in our personal, individual lives, as well as in our corporate lives.”  Rev. Paul Bosch reflects on where tradition plays a role in our worship conferences – both in our liturgies and in the songs and hymns we sing.

Take the time to read through these reflections.  Feel free to comment and add your own thoughts.  And it is not too early to know that there will be another National Worship Conference coming in 2020.  Details will be communicated as they become available.

Malina – 2018 Worship Conference

Bosch – 2018 Worship Conference

Liberated by God’s Grace …to be neighbour


This year’s synod assembly focused on the freedom

we have been given in Christ to love our neighbour.  The themed session were an exercise in contextual theology as we listened closely to our neighbours inside and outside the church, set within our times of praise and prayer.  (Debbie Lou Ludolph, Worship Ministries Director, original quote published in The Eastern Synod Assembly Edition).

Each of the worship missals is attached to this article.  You are invited and encouraged to review and use the prayers, songs and bible studies that are provided.  At the end of the each missal is a list of permissions and resources.  Please credit the original authors for any resource  that you are using.

Our thanks to the Worship Planning Team of:  Debbie Lou Ludolph, Jonah Bruce, Sherry Coman, Rev. Steve Hoffard, Bradley Moggach, Cherub Philip, Kathryn Smith and Robb Wilson.

Thursday June 21, 2018

Opening Worship – Bishop Michael Pryse with Rev. Rosalyn Kantlah^nta’ Elm presided, National Bishop Susan Johnson preached.

…to be neighbour I– Multi-faith neighbours, with Bible Study by Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson

Friday June 22, 2018

Morning service – LGBTQIA+ neighbours

…to be neighbour II – Race relations, with Bible Study by Dr. Mary Philip (Joy)

Saturday June 22, 2018

…to be neighbour III – Homelessness and Addiction, with Bible Study by Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson and Dr. Mary Philip (Joy)

Sunday June 23, 2018

Closing Worship – National Bishop Susan Johnson presided, Bishop Michael Pryse preached

If you have any questions about the missals and or resources, feel contact Kathryn Smith at esworshipblog@gmail.com.

Book Review – Leading Worship Matters

Augsburg Fortress has published a number of books

under the “Worship Matters” banner.  Being both a book junkie and someone who is passionately interested in liturgy and worship, I just couldn’t resist getting these books.  I have found all of them helpful and easy to read and use, but there is one in particular that has proven very beneficial in the area of worship leadership.  Leading Worship Matters: A Sourcebook for Preparing Worship Leaders is written for the person training the worship leaders, but includes many helpful handouts and resources for those who will be taking on worship leadership roles.

The book clearly ascribes to the belief that worship leadership is the responsibility of the entire assembly gathered for worship, referring to Principle 8 in The Use of the Means of Grace, a statement on the practice of word and sacrament, adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA):  “All the baptized share responsibility for the proclamation of the Word and the formation of the Christian assembly.”  The introductory pages continue with theological, missional and practical reasons for including lay members as worship leaders.  What I appreciate, though, is that at no time do the writers take these roles lightly, but rather emphasize training and reflection.  As stated in the introduction,”Leading worship is not, of course, simply a matter of standing up and directing traffic; it is a ministry that requires prayer, thought, and practice” (p. 9). Another important point – there is no expectation that every congregation needs to follow an exact formula.  The content of the book is applicable to a broad range of contexts, leadership, and worship styles.  For example, in the chapter on Communion Ministers, there is acknowledgement that there are as many ways to distribute communion as there are assemblies, and the emphasis is placed on being gracious and graceful ministers, “caring for this meal as something both precious and familiar” (p. 125).  The tips In the “Tips for Communion Ministers”, include:  Serve with grace and purpose; Serve with joy; Worship while you serve; Know that you are serving Christ”  (p. 133).

The various worship leaders roles covered in the book include: Assisting Ministers, Readers, Intercessors, Acolytes, Ushers and Greeters, Communion Ministers within the assembly, Communion Ministers sent from the assembly, Altar Guild, Tech Ministers, Musicians and Cantors, Children’s Sermon Ministers, and a section on Worship Space, written by a number of different contributors.  Each section begins with an extensive Overview of the role, providing a historical background, practical guidelines, and the joys in serving in the role.  This is followed by a Summary of Duties, Tips, How to’s on preparing for Sunday and Worship, followed by Sample Training Outlines, Newsletter Articles and Letters of Invitation.  Also included in the book is a section of reproducible Helpful Topics.  All the items that can be reproduced freely are on the included CD. With the amount of useful and applicable information included, it makes the thought of beginning or expanding a lay worship leadership program seem very doable.

The two sections that I have used for leading training sessions are Assisting Ministers and Intercessors.  The Intercessors was a new leadership role in our congregation, whereas the Assisting Minister training was a refresher for most of the attendees, although we also had some new Assisting Ministers in attendance.  Each training session lasts about 60 – 75 minutes in length.  Both groups of people appreciated the discussion that was encouraged throughout the session.  For example, in the session for Assisting Ministers, there is the suggestion to discuss baptism and to look at the baptism liturgy, in light of the spiritual gifts given by the Spirit.  Thinking about what it means to live as a baptized child of God provided encouragement to the people attending the training, and a greater interest in the practical part of the training which followed.  In addition to the CD, there is also a video featuring lay worship leaders in action, which we did not use in our training, but is there to provide a visual for those who would find that helpful.  These training sessions were quite easy to lead and yet were robust enough that people found them very beneficial, providing them with confidence to take on the leadership roles.

Other books in this series include:  Getting the Word Out: A Handbook for Readers, Serving the Assembly’s Worship: A Handbook for Assisting Ministers, Altar Guild and Sacristy Handbook, and Worship Matters: An Introduction to Worship (Leader guide and Participant book).

Leading Worship Matters: A Sourcebook for Preparing Worship Leaders. Edited by Melinda Quivik, Suzanne Burke,  Martin A. Seltz, Julie O’Brien. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2013.

Reviewed by Kathryn Smith, MA Christian Studies and a member of All Saints Lutheran Anglican Church in Guelph, Ontario

Where Two or Three are Gathered Resource – Time of Creation

The Program Committee for Worship of the ELCIC

has commissioned Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies, a series of worship outlines for the seasons of the church year using Evangelical Lutheran Worship as the primary resource. Each week’s worship orders include options for Holy Communion and Service of the Word.

The Time or Season of Creation is increasingly being recognized by churches across the world. It is now designated each year between the Day of Creation, September 1, and the festival of Francis of Assisi, October 4. This year there are five Sundays to recognize this seasonal emphasis on the goodness of God’s creation and God’s calling all people to care for the earth and its climate.

Clink on the link Where Two or Three are Gathered  for visual and musical suggestions, a simple order for worship, prayer and liturgical choices from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) and other sources.

See last weeks post for additional resources.

Centered in Song – Toronto 2018

An invitation from The Centre For Congregational Song

to learn about this groundbreaking resource centre. You will hear from some of Toronto’s top song leaders and hymnologists and sing together in a “Big Sing,” celebrating the diversity of the church’s song.

September 29, 2018 9:30 am 310 Danforth Ave, Toronto

The price is right – FREE – but please register to ensure the venue has enough space for everyone.

For more information and to register:  Centered in Song – Toronto 2018


Free Webinar: All Hands In: Drumming the Biblical Narrative Vol. II

Led by Mark Burrows and Brian Hehn


The exciting sequel to All Hands In is here! And here’s your chance to learn from composers Mark Burrows and Brian Hehn as they lead this webinar hosted by Sacred Choral Editor Katie Houts. Mark and Brian will show you how to maximize your use of drumming resources in fun and creative ways. Join the session live at noon (central) Thursday, Aug. 30.

Click on this link to register:  REGISTER

Season of Creation

Sovereign of the universe, your first covenant of mercy was with every living creature.  When your beloved Son came among us, the waters of the river welcomed him, the heavens opened to greet his arrival, the animals of the wilderness drew near as his companions. With all the world’s people, may we who are washed into new life through baptism seek the way of your new creation, the way of justice and care, mercy and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  (EvLW, p. 81, Prayer for Creation and new creation)

From September 1 to October 4, Christians from around the world unite to pray and care for creation.  It’s the Season of Creation.  The theme this year is “Walking Together.”

Resources are available from many of our ecumenical partners, including those that have been created within the Eastern Synod.  Follow the various links to find resources appropriate to your community and context.  I encourage to share how your congregation remembered the Season of Creation.

ELCIC:  http://elcic.ca/timeforcreation/

From this link find resources for:

Liturgies: Including the Eastern Synod 2016 Assembly Creation Not For Sale liturgies. The Thanksgiving Prayer, written by Rev. Dr. Kimber McNabb is also included in this resource;  and the Right to Water Liturgy used on Parliament Hill during the 2013 Joint National Assembly

Hymns, Prayers, Studies (including a Blessing of the Animals liturgy), Suggested Activities and links to other ecumenical resources.

ACC:  https://www.anglican.ca/publicwitness/season-of-creation/

Here you will find lectionary notes based on the Revised Common Lectionary, Hymn Suggestions using a variety of hymnal resources (unfortunately not including Evangelical Lutheran Worship), and a Sample Liturgy.

Season of Creation:  http://seasonofcreation.org

This is the main page for knowing what is happening internationally, and for finding a “Season of Creation” 2018 Celebration Guide, produced in partnership with many of our international ecumenical partners, including Lutheran World Relief and the World Council of Churches.  A further explanation of this year’s theme is available, as well as additional worship and prayer materials, and a blessing for pilgrims.  The guide is online, and as well there is a downloadable PDF version available.

Sing the Circle Wide:  The Inshallah songbook published in 2016 contains a number of songs suitable for using during the Season of Creation, including “The Earth does not belong to us”, “To God our thanks we give”, and “For the Beauty of the Earth,” traditional words set to a Chinese folk tune melody.

Blessing of the Animals:  The Season of Creation ends on October 4, The Feast Day of St. Francis.  It has been traditional in some communities to celebrate a “Blessing of the Animals” on or around this date.  See the posting of May 22, 2018 for a service of Pet Blessing prepared by Rev. Janaki Bandara and a sample certificate that can be used for people to remember the day.  In addition, refer to the Blessing of the Animals liturgy mentioned above available on the ELCIC website.

May we grow more mindful of the world we have been entrusted with during this Season of Creation.



Relationships with God

In the following sermon, Deacon Scott Knarr writes

about his call to diaconal ministry, using imagery of consecration and covenant, especially the covenant we share with the Haudenosaunee people.  Scott has provided us words to ponder and a way to live in hope and in relationship with all of God’s creation.  Thank you, Scott, for sharing this sermon with us, which was first preached at the February 28, 2018 Open Door service at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

Knarr – SermonFeb282018