Seasons and Celebrations: A round-the-year worship companion
Gill Ambrose, Maureen Baldwin, Jean Harrison, and Pam Macnaughton, editors
Canterbury Press £24.99
Church Times Bookshop £22.50
WEEK by week, all around the country, lay and ordained Christians prepare new material for Sunday’s church services. Much of the time, this is a joy, but at major celebrations it can be difficult to find anything new to say. My training incumbent told me, as I prepared for my first Christmas as a priest, not to even try to be original, because it was very hard to find something new to say. Seasons and Celebrations offers new ideas and fresh resources for those looking for a new way to engage imaginatively with people who do not attend church often.
It has been developed by ROOTS, the joint initiative by the mainstream Churches in the UK and Ireland, which provides lectionary-based resources for all-age worship and learning. Seasons and Celebrations offers complete all-age service outlines for seasons of the Church’s year, and a variety of annual occasions such as Christingle, Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday), Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day, going back to school, and Hallowe’en. Writers from several Christian denominations have worked on these resources, and they demonstrate an excellent breadth of style and tradition.
The most complete service plans include hymnody and most of the detail needed to run a whole act of all-age worship. Others introduce ideas and scripts, giving suggestions for other resources that are available. Still others draw on the liturgical traditions of one of the Churches involved in developing ROOTS.
None of the ideas is beyond a small group of half a dozen people who want to be involved in sharing the leading of worship, although all the services would need some level of preparation. Texts are available on the accompanying CD-ROM, and can be downloaded or projected.
Like any seasonal resource used too often, the scripts and prayers can lose their impact with over-use. There are, however, enough fresh resources here to last for several years, and some of the services are so good that they would bear repetition. I would have valued some ideas for use at Christmas, Lent, and Easter with those who are struggling with life. In any all-age setting, there will be those who are sick and mourning, as well as adults and children who find that celebration in the midst of familial, local, national, or international disaster challenges the upbeat nature of much of the content of Seasons and Celebrations.
This is a high-quality resource, as we have come to expect from ROOTS for Churches. Seasons and Celebrations would support the ministry of clergy, and also of youth or children’s group leaders, and of worship teams. It would be a source of ideas and encouragement to groups struggling to understand what constitutes inclusive and all-age worship, engaging as it does with the senses, the visual, and the dramatic. And it is adaptable to small and larger congregations, and those with limited resources, musical and otherwise.
The Revd Dana Delap is Team Vicar of Blockley and Bourton on the Hill and Missioner in the Vale and Cotswold Edge Team.