When Dr. Robin Knowles Wallace thinks about her newly published book, The Christian Year: A Guide for Worship and Preaching, she's particularly pleased by two things.
First, thanks to research during a recent sabbatical, she was able to provide her readers with the latest scholarship.
"Over my sabbatical, I studied all the most recent work on the Christian year," says Wallace, professor in the Taylor Endowed Chair of Worship and Music and director of MTSO's Doctor of Ministry program. "The first chapter is pretty concise and really up to date on what scholars know now about the development of the Christian year."
Second, she incorporated thoughts on worship as it relates to missio Dei – God's mission: "Although worship is a time to set aside and be with God, it needs to bear fruit in how we're sent by God to live in the world, to help move the world toward God's vision."
"We say, 'What are we being sent to do? This week, the scriptures send us to do X, Y, Z.'"
The Christian Year is Wallace's seventh book, her fifth for Abingdon Press. She's quick to acknowledge the work of three MTSO graduates who contributed to the book during their time as students: Cordelia Burpee (M.Div. '10), Robin Dillon (M.Div. '10) and Michele Holloway (M.Div. '11).
The book follows the Revised Common Lectionary, though the last chapter provides alternative readings for Ordinary Time, those Sundays following Epiphany and Pentecost. The alternative readings aren't in the standard RCL, Wallace says, "because they're harder." Some passages, for instance, "deal with anger – human anger, God's anger. They deal with hard situations. All our heroes in the Bible aren't totally clean."
In addition to prayers, litanies, and suggestions for preaching and music, The Christian Year offers suggestions for the use of art, poetry and color in services. It also provides a few bonuses Wallace considers "kind of fun," such as varieties of names for God appropriate to each season and even a few suggestions for handling the annual early December debate between proponents of Advent hymns and Christmas carols.
Summing up the book, Wallace says, "I think it's for people who are able to move beyond denominational worship books."
"It's for any size church. A group of 12 people could use this, but it would also be a resource for a large church very easily."
Methodist Theological School in Ohio prepares transformational leaders of many faith traditions for service to the church and the world. MTSO offers master's degrees in divinity, counseling ministries, theological studies and practical theology, as well as a Doctor of Ministry degree. For more information, visit www.mtso.edu.
Danny Russell, director of communications