Brief Book Review: Connections Worship Companion, Year C Volume 1: Advent through Pentecost

Connections Worship Companion, Year C, Volume 1:
Advent through Pentecost
Edited by David Gambrell

Who’s it for and who should read this? This book, like the rest of the Connections series, is oriented toward churches who use the Revised Common Lectionary. It also includes supplements for the Narrative Lectionary. It will even serve as a resource for persons planning Roman Catholic liturgy. 

Why is it significant? So often, at least in my experience, the formative nature of the liturgical seasons and lectionary themes bypass the worshipping community. Persons in pastoral and liturgical leadership roles can help the liturgy serve as the primary formative experience by supplementing denominational liturgical resources with original prayers and exhortations drawn from the Scriptures.

What might the reader like the most? The essays throughout the book, titled “Making Connections,” are phenomenal introductions to each section of the book. These provide pastors and liturgical planners with an overview of the scriptures of the season and orient the scriptural themes toward pastoral liturgical application.  

Readers familiar with the Connections and Feasting on the Word series of homiletic commentaries and the Feasting on the Word Worship Companion series already know the strengths of these resources.

Kudos: “Everything that rises must converge,” or so they say. Well, whoever they are certainly knows how liturgical reform works. The convergences of the past 50 years, of which the RCL is the most notable example, are surely a sign of the Holy Spirit working in the Church and drawing her deeper into the life of God. This work, like the Feasting on the Word Worship Companion series WJK also publishes, serves to further this liturgical convergence. The editorial team has embodied the “feel” of the prayers in Book of Common Worship, 2018, yet produced a text that can be used by any denomination.

Disappointment: The physical book is much lower quality than I expect from WJK. While it is a hardcover (a major plus to me, normally) the case wrapping is not solidly adhered to the spine and the coverboards. It’s also not square to the book, so the back cover is uneven. While I can assume the crooked printing is a mistake, the book should be bound with a more substantial cover to hold up to use throughout the year.

Next steps: There are three types of material provided in this volume: the “Making Connections” essays, seasonal material to be used over the course of several weeks, and weekly material.

The seasonal material for each season includes the following resources: a Confession and Pardon, a Prayer for Illumination, a Thanksgiving for Baptism, a Great Thanksgiving, a Prayer after Communion, a Prayer of Thanksgiving, and a Blessing.

For each Sunday and feast includes: Opening Sentences (or Call to Worship), Prayer of the Day (Or Gathering Prayer), Invitation to Discipleship, Prayers of Intercession, Invitation to Offering, Invitation to the Table, and a Charge.

While it is clear from the format that these resources are from the Reformed tradition as embodied in the PCUSA, the shape of the resources is truly ecumenical and Roman Catholic users of this resource can gain as much from its weekly resources and essays as can those whose denominational body allows greater flexibility in liturgical planning.

My recommendation? If you are now planning your liturgy for the upcoming liturgical year, buy this book. Although not every resource it contains will be relevant in your pastoral situation, it will be an invaluable aid in strengthening the liturgy by showing the rich dynamism between Table of the Eucharist and the Table of the Word. 

David Gambrell, ed., Connections Worship Companion, Year C Volume 1: Advent through Pentecost (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2021), 222 pages.

REVIEWER: David Wesson

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