Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Liturgy: Lent 4, Matthew 14-17 (Lessons and Carols; March 19, 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.*


(Lent 3 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 4 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 16:13-19)

Leader: Who do people say the Human one is?
People: Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.
Leader: And who do you say that he is?
People: He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Leader: The keys to the kindom belong to those who understand.
People: Let us fling the doors open wide in the name of our Lord and Savior!
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 17:1-8)

Leader: When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured and heard the voice of God, they were overcome and hid their faces in awe. But Jesus said to them, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” Let us now face our sins laid bare in the brightness of God’s glory, unafraid because of our trust in God’s mercy.

Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Matthew 16)

People: Living God, we confess that our faith is small and weak. We ask for miracles and proofs to sustain our belief while missing all the signs right in front of our eyes. We follow false teachers in our quest for easy answers. We talk when the time is not right and remain silent when our voices are most needed. We deny our own cross and reject your teachings, allowing our human concerns to become stumbling blocks for others. We seek to preserve our way of life at all costs. Forgive us, Lord. Lift us out of our sin so that we might join Peter as the rock upon which your Church is built, the soil in which your kindom is grown. In your mercy, hear our prayer… 
(Silent prayers of personal forgiveness)

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

Declaration of Forgiveness (based on Matthew 14:14, 31, 15:28, 17:18)

Leader: Just as Jesus has mercy for hungry crowds, just as Jesus has mercy for doubtful disciples, just as Jesus has mercy for Canaanite mothers, just as Jesus has mercy for desperate fathers, so Jesus has mercy for you. Hear the Good News: 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)

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 fourth Sunday in Lent
    • Things that stand between us and God as locked doors
    • What doors are Jesus unlocking?
  • This week we’re reading Matt. 14-17
    • Here’s ONE thing Jesus will help us understand today
  • [Unlock door – Empathetic Sympathy Card]
    • It’s a card – what kind? When would you send this?
    • WHY would you send a card like this?
  • This card demonstrates COMPASSION
    • What is compassion? (Shows you understand how someone is feeling)
    • Makes the person feel less alone
  • Jesus doesn’t just do nice things; he feels with them
    • Shows people that he cares
    • When you show you care, it makes people want to be closer to you
  • Let’s try to figure out what Jesus is telling us about God’s kindom, and what else Jesus is “unlocking”
    • Let’s pray
[Children return to their seats and remain in worship]

Lessons & Carols

John’s Beheading/Miracles:                  Matthew 14:1-33
Hymn GTG #463,                “How Firm a Foundation” [vv. 2 & 3]

Breaking the Rules:                              Matthew 14:34-15:28
Hymn GTG #435,     “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” [vv. 1 & 2]

2nd Feeding/2nd Demand for Sign:   Matthew 15:29-16:12
Hymn GTG #498, “Loaves Were Broken, Words Were Spoken” [vv. 1 & 4]

Peter the Rock/Transfiguration:       Matthew 16:13-17:7
Hymn GTG #190,        “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory” [vv. 1 & 3]

2nd Mustard Seed/Temple Tax:            Matthew 17:8-27

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 #357, “The Days Are Surely Coming”

Charge to the People & Benediction

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