Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Liturgy: Lent 1, Matthew 5-8 (Lessons and Carols; February 26, 2023)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*

(Ash Wednesday Liturgy here)

As we did last year, Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Caldwell, ID, will spend this Lent reading straight through a gospel from beginning to end: this year, Matthew. We will NOT have sermons during Lent, instead structuring worship around a "lessons and carols" model. All hymns are from the PC(USA)'s "Glory to God" hymnal.

The theme that will accompany this project is "Unlocking Salvation". As we work our way through Matthew's gospel, we will make note of the things standing between God and humanity (and specifically each of us) and how Jesus "unlocks" the doors that separate us. 

I will post the liturgies for ensuing weeks as I write them. I'm happy for anyone to use any part(s) of this series in their own worship contexts with proper attribution, but I would request that you let me know in the comments that you're doing so.

*NB: If there is nothing written under the heading, it's a portion of worship that I do extemporaneously.*


Lent 1 Worship Service (Liturgy by Rev. Katey Schwind Williams)
(Bold words are to be read aloud in unison, * indicates an invitation to stand)

*Call to Worship (based on Matthew 5:3-9)

Leader: Happy are those who are poor in spirit, those who grieve, those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
People: Happy are those who are merciful, those with pure hearts, those who make peace.
Leader: We come before God seeking a joy that can only come from serving the Lord.
People: We come before God seeking to do God’s will.
Leader: The Lord be with you!
People: And also with you!
Leader: Let us worship the Lord.

Hymn GTG #403, “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” [v. 1 only]

Call to Confession (based on Matthew 5:19)

Leader: Jesus tells us that whoever ignores the least of the commands contained in the Law and the Prophets will be called the lowest in the kindom of heaven. We are all guilty of this and more besides. Therefore, let us confess our sins in all humility and faith in God’s mercy.

Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Matthew 5:21-44)

People: Righteous Lord, we have heard it said, “Do not commit murder,” yet we have cultivated anger in our hearts. We have heard it said, “Do not commit adultery,” yet we have readily betrayed those to whom we have pledged faithfulness. We have heard it said, “Do not swear falsely,” yet we regularly break the promises we’ve made to you and to one another. We have heard it said, “Love your neighbor,” yet we pick and choose whom we consider worthy of love. We treat your Law with disdain and your Prophets with contempt. Forgive us, O Lord. Help us to live your Law not only according to what is written, but according to your will, made clear to us in Christ. In your mercy, hear our prayer. (Silent prayers of personal forgiveness)

Sung Response “O Lord, Hear My Prayer” (GTG Hymn #471)

O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer, when I call, answer me;
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer: come and listen to me.

Declaration of Forgiveness (based on Matthew 14-15)

Leader: Having confessed our sins before God, we must no longer hide our light under the basket of our shame. Now is the time to let our light shine in the world, telling all people what we already know: In Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven! Thanks be to God!

The Peace

Leader: The Peace of Jesus Christ be with you all!
People: And also with you!
[Please share the peace of Christ in person and by text]

Sung Response “Open the Eyes of My Heart” (GTG Hymn #452, 1st part)

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord; open the eyes of my heart:
I want to see you, I want to see you. [Repeat]

In Other Words… [Children's Message]
[I have set up a row of six shoeboxes in the chancel designed to look like doors; I have also cut a large key out of cardboard and covered it with tin foil. Each week we will be opening a new one.]

This isn't a verbatim script, but an outline of what I said:
  • Today is the first Sunday in Lent
    • We’re talking about the things that stand between us and God, imagining them as locked doors
    • As we read through Matthew’s gospel, we’ll find out new "doors" that Jesus unlocks for us
  • This week we’re reading Matt. 5-8
    • Jesus says A LOT in these 4 chapters
    • Behind this door is ONE thing he’ll help us understand today
  • [Unlock door – Hebrew Bible]
    • [Ask for observations]
    • It’s a Hebrew Bible, the scriptures that Jesus would have been reading, in his language
    • The first five parts are called Torah (“Law”)
  • Torah is where we learn how God wants us how to live
    • It can be hard to understand – especially since it was written down so long ago in a different language – but Jesus helps us unlock the meaning
    • As we listen, see if you can hear some other things that Jesus is helping us understand, or “unlocking”
  • Let’s pray...
[Children return to their seats and remain in worship]

Lessons and Carols

The Beatitudes:                                          Matthew 5:1-16
Hymn GTG #172 “Blest Are They” [vv. 1 & 5 w/ refrains]

Fulfilling the Law:                                     Matthew 5:17-48
Hymn GTG #459 “O Word of God Incarnate” [ALL verses]

How to Practice Faith:                              Matthew 6:1-21
Don’t Worry:                                              Matthew 6:22-34
Hymn GTG #39 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” [vv. 1 & 3]

Further Instructions:                                 Matthew 7:1-29
Hymn GTG #353 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” [vv. 1-3]

Three Healings:                                          Matthew 8:1-17
By the Lake:                                                Matthew 8:18-27
Demons & Pigs:                                         Matthew 8:28-34

Leader: This is the Word of the Lord!
People: Thanks be to God!

Hymn GTG #451, “Open My Eyes, That I May See” [v. 1 only]

*Affirmation of Faith: (Excerpts Adapted from the Heidelberg Catechism)

Leader: What are the keys of the kingdom?
People: The preaching of the holy gospel and repentance.
Leader: How does the holy gospel open the kingdom of heaven?
People: According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all people, each and every one, that God, because of Christ’s merit, truly forgives all their sins. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.
Leader: How is the kingdom of heaven opened by repentance?
People: According to the command of Christ: Those who, after repeated personal and loving admonitions, refuse to abandon their errors and evil ways are not able to enter the kingdom of Christ. Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of his Church.
Leader: What is involved in genuine repentance?
People: Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the rising-to-life of the new.


Prayers of the People & The Lord’s Prayer

*Hymn GTG #166, “Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days” [vv. 1-3 only]

Charge to the People & Benediction

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