Service for the Lord’s Day
Adapted from John Calvin’s Form of Church Prayers,
first published in Geneva (1542) and Strasbourg (1545)
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
With true and believing hearts,
let us give worship and praise to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
PRELUDE “By Peaceful Waters” Felix Mendelssohn
Liturgy of the Word
Grant, almighty God, that as you shine on us by your Word, we may not be blind at midday, nor willfully seek darkness, and thus lull our minds asleep: but, may we be roused daily by your words, and may we stir up ourselves more and more to fear your name and thus present ourselves and all our pursuits, as a sacrifice to you, that you may peaceably rule and perpetually dwell in us, until you gather us to your celestial habitation, where there is reserved for us eternal rest and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
*HYMN No. 409 “God Is Here!”
1 God is here! As we your people
meet to offer praise and prayer,
may we find in fuller measure
what it is in Christ we share.
Here, as in the world around us,
all our varied skills and arts
wait the coming of the Spirit
into open minds and hearts.
2 Here are symbols to remind us
of our lifelong need of grace;
here are table, font, and pulpit;
here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching,
here in silence, as in speech,
here, in newness and renewal,
God the Spirit comes to each.
3 Here our children find a welcome
in the Shepherd’s flock and fold;
here, as bread and wine are taken,
Christ sustains us as of old.
Here the servants of the Servant
seek in worship to explore
what it means in daily living
to believe and to adore.
4 Lord of all, of church and kingdom,
in an age of change and doubt
keep us faithful to the gospel;
help us work your purpose out.
Here, in this day’s dedication,
all we have to give, receive:
we, who cannot live without you,
we adore you! We believe!
INVITATION TO CONFESSION
Brothers and sisters, let us present ourselves before the Lord, confessing our faults and sins.
CONFESSION OF SIN
Lord God, eternal and almighty Father:
We acknowledge before your holy majesty that we are poor sinners, conceived and born in guilt and in corruption,
prone to do evil, unable of our own power to do good.
Because of our sin, we endlessly violate your holy commandments. But, O Lord, with heartfelt sorrow we repent
and turn away from all our offenses.
We condemn ourselves and our evil ways,
with true sorrow asking that your grace will relieve our distress.
Have compassion on us, most gracious God, Father of mercies, for the sake of your son Jesus Christ our Lord.
And in removing our guilt,
also grant us daily increase of the grace of your Holy Spirit, and produce in us the fruits of holiness and of righteousness pleasing in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, you know that God, being full of goodness and mercy, loved the world so greatly that he gave his only Son,
who said plainly that he had come to save that which had been lost.
That good Savior has promised us
that everything we ask in his name will be given us,
and that if we forgive others their sins his Father will forgive our own.
Believe, therefore, that when we ask God‘s mercy in the name of our Lord Jesus, and when we forgive our neighbor, our Lord forgives us,
and, through the faith we have in Jesus Christ, our hearts are cleansed.
May Jesus, the true Savior of the world,
who died for us and is seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, dwell in your hearts through his Holy Spirit,
that you be wholly alive in him, through living faith and perfect love.
God spoke all these words, saying,
I am the Lord your God.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
RESPONSE No. 582 “Glory to God, Whose Goodness Shines on Me”
1 Glory to God, whose goodness shines on me,
and to the Son, whose grace has pardoned me,
and to the Spirit, whose love has set me free.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen.
ANTHEM “Through the Eyes of a Child” Gene G Grier
Owen Cunningham – flutist
Through the eyes of a child, I can feel, I can see. Through the eyes of a child, We are God’s family.
Through the eyes of a child, As a mother I know, Through the eyes of a child, That this child loves God so.
Make me a child, let me feel, let me see God’s perfect love as it was meant to be. Make me a child, let me feel, let me see God’s perfect love, we are God’s family.
Through the eyes of a child, Everyone is a friend. Through the eyes of a child, Innocence never ends.
Make me a child, let me feel, let me see God’s perfect love as it was meant to be. Make me a child, let me feel, let me see God’s perfect love, we are God’s family.
Through the eyes of a child, We are all family. Through the eyes of a child, God’s great love shines on me.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Almighty and ever gracious God,
since all our salvation depends upon your holy Word:
therefore grant that our hearts may be set free from worldly things,
so that we may with all diligence and faith hear your Word,
rightly understand your gracious will,
and in all sincerity live according to the same,
to your praise and glory;
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
SCRIPTURE Matthew 22:34-46
34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Today is Reformation Sunday.
It is a Sunday when we nod to the power of change, not for change’s sake, but for the sake of love. Specifically – God’s love, in Christ Jesus, at work in the church.
When Martin Luther saw the church abuse its power, making the poor pay indulgences telling them that they might get out of purgatory and into heaven sooner, he challenged a transactional theology. It was his pastoral response. Salvation was not about what you said, or did, or how much money you paid in indulgences, salvation came from faith in Christ alone.
John Calvin followed Luther, continuing to push for reforms. He wrote his magnum opus, The Institutes of Christian Religion, when he was 27. His institutes everything you needed to know about the whole sum of godliness and whatever is necessary to know about God’s saving doctrine. Calvin intended to be an academician, but felt God’s call in a way that he ended up a pastor in Geneva where he reportedly preached hour-long sermons every day of the week. He built an educational system that would change the world. Again, not for change’s sake, but for the church, and her people to be ordered rightly in the Word. “The church reformed, always reforming by the Word of God.”
God is constantly at work in and through us, in Christ Jesus, whose love leads the way. And – reformation whether in the church or the constitution, isn’t always easy.
Bryn Greenwood, the author of “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things,” tweeted, “If you only read books that make you feel safe and comfortable, what’s the point in reading?” She wasn’t speaking about reading the Bible, but certainly, she could have been. To be reformed by the Word of God, we have to be reading it – and it’s not always a feel-good read. An honest view and examination of our roles in the parables can bring discomfort.
Bryn tells of a writing class exercise at Kansas State and a particular methodology for writing. For homework, students are invited to write a story about an encounter with someone who radically altered their view of the world. In class, they read these stories aloud. Then, in class, they must write the same story from the perspective of the other person.
When we come to this text in Matthew – about the greatest commandment and the one that is like it – Jesus has been flexing the muscles of disagreement on behalf of those who had been marginalized. Jesus has been doing the work of God’s love – living in loving kindness and active mercy for justice. In doing so, he reveals the power of God’s love at work in Him. Jesus, the Messiah, is the Lord’s, the Son of God. He responds to God’s love with the whole of who he is.
The religious leaders, and in this case, a lawyer, seek to demonstrate a “win” or a “gotcha” to entrap Jesus. The lawyer was confident he was right. The trap is set for a black and white, right and wrong answer.
With Jesus, and in life, nothing is that simple. When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment – he sets the first commandment into a greater perspective for the lawyer.
Jesus says, the first, “Love God” which is drawn from Deuteronomy and the Shema. And then he quickly says, “And love your neighbor, like yourself.” This second, drawn from Leviticus, adds the depth of perspective. Jesus says – everything – judgment and salvation – everything, the whole of life hangs on these two because, God’s love is an action.
In his Institutes, John Calvin said of such love, “Love is the first and great thing that God demands from us, and therefore the first and great thing that we should devote to Him. We learn from this that God does not rest satisfied with the outward appearance of works, but chiefly demands the inward feelings, that from a good root, fruits may grow.”
When we trust in God’s care and provision, we grow in love and faithfulness. We look to the neighbor first – and do not judge, but serve in love, no matter the obstacle. As Paul says in Romans, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is a fulfilling of the law.” Paul Tillich says, “In order to know what is just in a person-to-person encounter, love listens. It is its first task to listen. … the first duty of love is to listen.”
An interesting perspective, or question for us to examine.
How do we from that Good Root of God’s good love listen as disciples of Christ? From our neighbor’s perspective, is he – or is she – truly experiencing God’s love from us?
When we love our neighbors like ourselves, God’s love is not a love that leads down a path of least resistance, but some days it feels more like an obstacle course.
When we love our neighbors like ourselves, God’s love ensures justice for our neighbors, not indifference or hostility.
When we love our neighbors like ourselves, God’s love is not earned by good Christian behavior that avoids biblical imperatives for justice.
Embodying God’s love in Christ Jesus is hard work. Thomas Merton said, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
To the test, and confrontations, Jesus revealed great forbearance. God’s active love held on to him in that place of discomfort as he asked the hard question,
“What do you think of the Messiah?”
Dolly Parton was a virtual guest on the Stephen Colbert show during the COVID shutdown. He cried as he listened to Dolly describe the way her mother wove stories into songs. Wiping tears away, he asked, “What are you writing these days?”
Dolly responded, “I don’t know if I’m writing it to the world, or to a person, but it goes something like this.”
I love you.
Whether you like it or not.
You can’t tell me what to do. You can’t make me not love you.
Cause I love you.
You can’t stop me.
Dolly’s song sounds like lyrics working for reform in a polarized world.
Liturgy and Commentary provided by Book of Common Worship, John Calvin, Anne Apple, John C. Bush, Martin Luther and Bryn Greenwood.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Almighty God, you have promised to hear the prayers we make
through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who said that he would be in the midst of us whenever we gather in his name. Now lift up our thoughts and desires to you
so that we may call on you with all our heart,
trusting in your goodness and grace.
We pray for all leaders and rulers,
those charged with the administration of justice. Rule over them by your sovereign Spirit
so that they might build up the realm of Christ. Keep the people of all nations in peace and safety so that we may serve you in godliness
and praise your name all the days of our lives.
We pray for the church, its pastors, and people,
and all whom you have entrusted with the work of the gospel. Guide and direct us by your Holy Spirit,
so that we may be faithful ministers of your glory:
gathering all the poor, wandering, and lost sheep
into the loving arms of the good shepherd Jesus Christ,
so that they may grow in righteousness and holiness in him.
We pray for all people everywhere,
that those who are estranged from the knowledge of Christ
may be brought into the illumination of the Holy Spirit
through the preaching of the gospel.
Visit them with your grace and enlighten them with your Word so that they may grow in goodness day by day,
enriched by your spiritual blessings,
until all the world may worship you with one heart and one voice.
We pray for all those who are suffering,
whether by poverty, prison, sickness, exile,
or any misery of the body or affliction of the spirit. Enable them to know your loving kindness and care so that they may be delivered from every ill.
We pray for all who are gathered here in the name of Jesus Christ, that we might hear his Word and keep his Supper.
Pardon our faults and nourish us in all goodness,
so that we may offer ourselves completely,
with all our love and steadfast faith,
to your dear Son, our Lord, the only Savior and Redeemer, who taught us to pray:
THE LORD‘S PRAYER
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.
*HYMN No. 655 “What Shall I Render to the Lord”
1 What shall I render to the Lord;
what shall my offering be,
for all the gracious benefits
God hath bestowed on me?
2 Salvation’s cup my soul shall take
while to the Lord I pray,
and with God’s people I will meet,
my thankful vows to pay.
3 Not lightly dost thou, Lord, permit
thy chosen saints to die;
from death thou hast delivered me;
thy servant, Lord, am I.
4 Within God’s house, the house of prayer,
my soul shall bless the Lord,
and praises to God’s holy name
let all the saints accord.
Liturgy of the Table
SCRIPTURE AND EXPOSITION
Having made our confession of faith to testify that we are children of God, and hoping therefore that God our faithful Father will be gracious to us, let us hear how Jesus Christ instituted his holy supper for us, as St. Paul relates it in 1 Corinthians 11:
―I have received from the Lord,‖ he says, ―that which I have delivered to you, how the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying ̳Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this remembering me.‘ And after the supper he took the cup, saying, ̳This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, remembering me.‘ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord‘s death until he comes.‖
We have heard how our Lord observed his supper with his disciples. Therefore, let each of us examine our conscience to see whether we truly repent of our sins, desire henceforth to live a live consistent with God‘s will, and above all to trust in God‘s mercy—seeking salvation wholly in Jesus Christ and, renouncing all hatred and dissention, determine to live in peace and love with our neighbors and to discern the unity of Christ‘s body which is the church.
If we have this witness in our hearts before God, never doubt that he claims us as his children, and that the Lord Jesus addresses his Word to us, inviting us to his Table and giving us this holy sacrament offered to all his disciples. Above all, believe the promises of his unfailing truth, that Christ is truly willing to make us partakers of his body and blood, in order that we may possess him wholly and so that he may live in us as we in him. Though we see only bread and wine, we affirm that he fulfills in us everything he shows us in these visible things: that he is the true bread of heaven and food for eternal life. In giving himself to us, he claims us as his own.
Therefore, come and let us receive this sacrament as a pledge of the goodness which his life and death has gained for us. May we never pull ourselves away from the one who invites us by his Word, but present ourselves to him with believing hearts, that he may give himself to us. Come, then, and receive what Christ offers.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also, with you.
Let us lift our spirits and hearts on high.
We lift them to the Lord.
Almighty God, we offer thanks and praise to you without ceasing and magnify your name in word and deed.
As on the cross our Lord Jesus offered his body and blood
for the forgiveness of our sins,
still, he seeks to offer them to us as nourishment for eternal life. By the power of your Holy Spirit,
grant us the grace of such a beneficial gift
that we may sincerely receive his body and blood
– indeed, Christ himself – who, being true God and truly human, is the holy bread of heaven which gives us life.
No longer living for ourselves
but Christ in us and we in Christ,
lead us to the life that is holy, blessed, and everlasting.
As partakers in your eternal covenant of grace,
by which we are made children and heirs,
and through which our needs are provided,
may we never cease to magnify your name in word and deed. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Those communing come forward to receive from the elders, while a lector reads John 13;
13 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already decided[a] that Judas son of Simon Iscariot would betray Jesus. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from supper, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet,[b] but is entirely clean. And you[c] are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had reclined again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, slaves are not greater than their master, nor are messengers[d] greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread[e] has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur you may believe that I am he.[f] 20 Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining close to his heart;[g]24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”[h] So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.[i] 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him,[j] God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
Take, eat, the body of Jesus which has been delivered unto death for you.
This is the cup of the new covenant in the blood of Jesus which has been shed for you.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Eternal God, we give you eternal praise and thanks
that you have drawn us into the communion of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord, the true bread of heaven and drink for eternal life. Grant us now this further benefit:
that we may never forget these things, but hold them always in our hearts, so that we may grow in grace, increase in faith, and serve you in all we do. So may we live to the praise of your glory,
and serve others even as in Christ you have served us;
through Jesus Christ your Son,
who in the unity of the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with you,
O God, forever and ever. Amen.
SONG OF SIMEON “Now May Your Servant, Lord”
OFFERING FOR THE POOR
John Calvin states, “Where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority. Covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil.” Let us offer our hearts to God as we offer our riches for Christ’s ministry.
*RESPONSE No. 607 “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise Christ, all people here below;
praise Holy Spirit evermore;
praise Triune God, whom we adore. Amen.
O Lord God, I give you thanks for all the benefits and gifts you constantly shower on me. Thank you for sustaining my physical life through food and shelter; for giving me new life through the gospel; and for the certainty of the best and perfect life, which is yet to come. In light of all these blessings, I now ask that you would not allow my affections to be tangled in inordinate desires for the things of this world, but let me always set my heart on things above, where Christ, who is my life, is seated at your right hand. Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
*HYMN No. 529 “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether”
1 Draw us in the Spirit’s tether,
for when humbly in your name
two or three are met together,
you are in the midst of them.
Here we touch your garment’s hem.
2 As disciples used to gather
in the name of Christ to sup,
then with thanks to God the giver
break the bread and bless the cup,
so now bind our friendship up.
3 All our meals and all our living
make as sacraments of you,
that by caring, helping, giving,
we may be disciples true.
We will serve with faith anew.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be merciful to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and keep you in virtuous prosperity. Amen.