Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Liturgy: Lent 6, Matthew 21-23 (Lessons and Carols; April 2, 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 5 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 5 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 21:8-16)

Leader: Do you hear what the children are saying?
People: “Hosanna,” they cry, “Save us!”
Leader: We wave palms and lay down our clothes in anticipation of our Messiah.
People: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Leader: Our salvation enters on a humble donkey and stirs us up for the causes of justice, faithfulness, and mercy.
People: Grant us eyes to see and ears to hear.

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

Call to Confession (based on Matthew 23:37)

Leader: Jesus longs to gather us together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, to love and protect us. Let us overcome our pride and confess our sins to our heavenly mother, who wants nothing more than to cover us in abundant grace.

Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Matthew 23:13-23)

People: Most Holy One, how terrible for us! We admit that we fall short of your kindom in the very same ways as those who have gone before us. We let our own fear and shame keep our siblings apart from you and your kindom – hosanna! Save us! We prioritize gaining converts, instead of changing lives – hosanna! Save us! We squabble over the minutiae of faith while ignoring the Greatest Commandments – hosanna! Save us! We are guilty of all this and more. Forgive us, O Lord. Grant us the courage and wisdom to change our hearts and lives. Hosanna – save us from ourselves. 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 23:12)

Leader: We hear it again and again in the gospel: those who make themselves low will be lifted up. We are assured that when we confess our sins, God lifts us up out of our depravity and covers us in grace. In Jesus Christ, we are 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 sixth Sunday in Lent
    • We're imagining the things that stand between us and God as locked doors – what doors are Jesus unlocking?
  • This week we’re reading Matt. 21-23
    • Here’s ONE of the things Jesus will help us understand today
  • [Unlock door – Wedding Invitation]
    • What does it mean? (you can go to the wedding)
    • Who gets one? (whoever the couple want!)
    • What if everyone who gets an invitation can’t come? (they can invite more!)
  • People used to believe that only those who followed certain rules and believed certain things could be a part of God’s kindom – no one else!
    • Jesus says GOD gets to decide!
    • First God invited those people, but when they said “no”, God invited others
    • Now God says anyone who wants to come is invited!
  • Let’s try to figure out what this tells 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

Entering the City:                                      Matthew 21:1-22
Hymn GTG #197,               “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” [vv. 1 & 3]

Jesus in the Temple:                               Matthew 21:23-46
Hymn GTG #394,    “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation” [vv. 1 & 4]

Pharisees & Sadducees Test Jesus:     Matthew 22:1-33
Hymn GTG #250,           “In the Bulb There Is a Flower” [vv. 1 & 3]

The Greatest Commandment:         Matthew 22:34-23:12
Hymn GTG #63,                          “The Lord Is God” [all verses]

How Terrible…:                                        Matthew 23:13-39

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

Hymn GTG #451, “Open My Eyes, That I May See” [v. 3 only]


Communion Liturgy (see: March 5 Liturgy)

Prayer of Dedication

*Hymn GTG #509, “All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly”

Charge to the People & Benediction

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