Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Liturgy: Lent 5, Matthew 18-20 (Lessons and Carols; March 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.*

 (Lent 4 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 18:4-5 & 19:14)

Leader: Jesus says, “Let the children come to me…”
People: “…for the kindom of heaven belongs to such as them.”
Leader: Whoever humbles themselves will be the greatest in heaven’s kindom,
People: And whoever welcomes in Christ’s name welcomes Him.
Leader: Let us come into God’s presence as little children!
People: We welcome all in the name of Christ!
Leader: Let us worship the Lord.

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

Call to Confession (based on Matthew 18:20)

Leader: Jesus promises to be wherever two or three are gathered in his name. Therefore, in the fellowship of this community and the certainty of Christ’s presence, let us humbly confess our sin before God and before one another.

Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Matthew 18:10-14)

People: Holy Lord, your greatest joy is for your lost lambs to return to the fold, yet we confess our complicity in keeping them out. We look down with contempt on those who have never known you and those who have run away. We scold them. We accuse them. We call them “misguided,” “faithless,” “selfish,” and worse. We demand that they return on our terms, to the fold that we have created in our own image to suit our own needs. We force them to cut off the parts of who you created them to be so that we might remain comfortable and whole. We do not communicate the love and inclusion to which you have called us, the love and inclusion that we claim to believe in. Forgive us, O God. Remind us that YOU are the Great Shepherd, that it is YOUR fold to which we belong instead of the other way around. Help us to welcome your children with the same joy that you find in them. 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 18:21-22)

Leader: God offers forgiveness more than seven times, more than seventy-seven times, even more than seventy times seven times. God’s forgiveness is more abundant than anything that we can imagine. Therefore, hear and believe this 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 fifth Sunday in Lent
    • Imagining the things that stand between us and God as locked doors
    • What doors are Jesus unlocking?
  • This week we’re reading Matt. 18-20
    • Here’s ONE thing Jesus will help us understand today
  • [Unlock door – bottle of glue]
    • What do you use it for? (sticking things together)
    • Would you use it when you want to stick things together just for a little while? (no!)
  • Jesus tells us how important it is to be connected to others
    • He talks about including children, how to be fair, forgiveness, serving one another, commitment
    • These are all ways to help a community stick together
      • Why do you think this might be important to Jesus?
      • What door stands between us and God when we don't care about our community?
  • 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

How to Address Sin:                                Matthew 18:1-20
Hymn GTG #306,             “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” [vv. 1-2 & 5]

Forgiveness & Divorce:                       Matthew 18:21-19:12
Hymn GTG #316,        “Where Charity and Love Prevail” [vv. 1-2 & 4]

How to Gain Eternal Life:                      Matthew 19:13-26
Hymn GTG #684,             “Faith Begins by Letting Go” [vv. 1 & 3]

Concerning Fairness:                           Matthew 19:27-20:16
Hymn GTG #649,                        “Amazing Grace” [vv. 1 & 4]

Status & Another Healing:                    Matthew 20:17-34

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

*Hymn GTG #451, “Open My Eyes, That I May See” [v. 2 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 #188 “Jesus Loves Me!”

Charge to the People & Benediction

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