We gather together to ask the Lords blessing.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today.
The word gather is found more than 450 times in the Bible. There are some fifteen different Greek and Hebrew forms that translate into the English word gather. Little wonder, then, that it finds its way into so much of our liturgical language.
A Time to Gather seems an appropriate title and theme for this third book of brief worship services.
Gathering is a community word. It is my hope that when groups gather in a community of faith and worship, this resource will be of help. The notion of gathering as a worshipping community has been in the background of the writing throughout. It is written to follow the usual pastoral year, beginning with services that relate to September events. There is a service for each week of the year, followed by four special occasion services. Worship leaders will find that my suggestions serve best if read over beforehand. Then choices of hymns and scripture passages can be modified to meet local needs, and the meditation can be shortened to an allotted time or augmented by the thoughts of the celebrant. I also urge you to become familiar with the help that is available in the appendices.
I have been pleased by the number of people who have indicated that my previous two volumes, A Present Help and Fire in the Bones, have been helpful to them as a resource for private devotion. I have had this in mind in preparing the present work. I hope that it too will help in gathering the thoughts of those who use it in this way.
Once again, with leaders of group worship in mind, I have avoided making the references as personal as I might in a more autobiographical work or in my own preaching. The aim is to prevent any confusion about the voice behind the material.
Again, I wish to thank my editors, Peter Gordon White and Elizabeth Phinney, for their guidance, enthusiasm, and support in this project. Above all, I am pleased to acknowledge the invaluable aid of my wife Gwynneth, who has made valuable suggestions about the material from the start and has read over each page (Yeah, even until the fourth and fifth draft) and has been critic and proofreader. I dedicate this volume to her.