A Christmas Eve Worship Service by Pastor Michael Zarling Excerpt of the Worship Service:
A Christmas service based on Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
Processional Hymn: #55 — “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” (brass accompaniment)
As the hymn is introduced, please stand and face the processional cross in the back of the church, and turn to the front of the church as the cross passes you.
Minister: We worship in the name of the Father who gave us His Son, in the name of Jesus Christ, who came as the perfect Gift, and in the name of the Holy Spirit who brought us to faith in this Christ child.
Introduction by Pastor
Pastor: This year, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There are many blessings that we enjoy today because the Lord of the Church allowed Martin Luther to rediscover for God’s people. Blessings such as the truth of Scripture alone, the Bible translated into the language of the people, the doctrine of vocation, the power of congregational singing, etc. The greatest blessing is the grace of God found in the person of Jesus Christ – the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary to be the Savior of all humankind.
Martin Luther’s writings and hymns focus on this doctrine of grace. His Christmas hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” is all about the grace of God found in this Christchild, young and fair. Luther wrote this hymn for his children. It is recorded that “Luther was accustomed every year to prepare for his family a happy Christmas Eve’s entertainment … and for this festival of his children he wrote this Christmas hymn.”
“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” is based on Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth in the second chapter of his Gospel.
Before we focus on Jesus being born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, we hear from Luke how the promise of the Savior was first given to Mary.
What is the sound of grace? Did you know that grace even had a sound? It’s sound is described as sweet in the famous John Newton hymn titled “Amazing Grace.”
Worship also has a sound. It can be as loud as a chorus of shouts or as soft as a whisper. It can even include “silence” for personal reflection and meditation. But have you ever sat in a congregation of believers during a time of silent mediation and found yourself praying and listening to the sounds of silence? Yes, even a worshiper’s silence is audible.
Everything in God’s creation has a sound that is used to bring glory to His name. From the crickets rubbing their legs together in perfect time, to the tree frogs answering one another’s call, to the rustling of leaves letting us know what the wind is up to, to the rhythmic grind of the ocean waves lulling us to sleep, and to the thumping of our very hearts; we see and hear the sounds of God’s creation all around us and it is just mind boggling how a Creator could have come up with such an array of sounds, let alone colors, shapes, textures, tastes and smells.
Is there anything that God has banished to absolute silence in this world? How about the rocks? To my knowledge, these have yet to produce a sound in and of themselves, but Jesus reminds us that the possibility actually exists. In the gospel of Luke chapter 19, Jesus is quoted as saying:
“I tell you if they (us worshipers) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40
And so we are tasked with making a joyous noise to keep those rocks from crying out for yet another day or for another generation to come.
In biblical times, God’s people made joyous noise to their creator using harps, lyres, cymbals and drums – together with their voices; and the rocks remained silent for one more second.
Throughout time we have used acapella praise, praise accompanied by the organ, instrumental praise with brass, woodwind and bells, and lately we have offered praise to the guitar, piano and drum; each one of us participating in this glorious symphony of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more minute.
We have chanted, we have spoken, we have sung our hearts out, we have wept, we have laughed, and we have groaned all as part of the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more hour.
There is a unified rustling sound as we all rise for the Gospel reading and there is a cacophonous sound at the close of our worship time together as we all place our hymnbooks back in their racks, and the rocks remain silent for one more day.
From the bombastic singing of an Easter celebration service to the quietest moments on Good Friday to the anticipatory sounds of Advent and to the babbled languages of Pentecost as worship is held across the globe in every tribe, nation and tongue – God is continuing to be praised; and the rocks remain silent for one more week.
There is a sound as we receive the Lord’s Supper; a crunch inside our heads as we take and eat and a gulp; and the rocks remain silent for one more year.
The din and clatter of change jingling, bills being ruffled and plates being passed during the offering; and the rocks remain silent for one more decade.
Babies crying, doors opening and closing, ceiling fans whirling, heating and air conditioning buzzing – these too are the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more century.
Time marches on, seconds turn into minutes, minutes to days, days to weeks, weeks to years, years to decades and decades into centuries. Worshipers hand down their distinctive sounds from one generation to the next and tomorrow’s generation brings with them a new sound of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more millennium.
And yet, buried among these quiet rocks are a promise. A promise for all worshipers. An invitation to worship as we participate in creation’s symphony and yet another day without hearing even one rock cry out.
But I wonder what these rocks would say.
One might tell how a little shepherd boy named David used a small stone to slay a giant to show that we can do anything when God is with us and for us.
Another might tell how the prophet Elijah used stones to build an altar to God. This altar was used to offer a sacrifice to God to prove that He is the one, true God.
Yet another rock might tell how Solomon had used stones to build a beautiful temple for people to worship God.
Still another rock might remind us that Jesus once told a story about a wise man who built his house upon a rock. When the storms came, the house on the rock stood firm.
Yes, these stones might have a lot of stories to tell, but we won’t let them. Just as the followers of Jesus lined the streets to praise their King on that first Palm Sunday, you and I are here to praise our King. And as long as we praise him, there will be no need for these stones to cry out.
Nutritionists tell us that we need to obtain our vitamins through food as opposed to pills and that our daily intake should contain at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This is good advice, but I watch in amazement as a newborn child only needs one item for their complete nutritional needs as provided by their nursing mother. While on this milk they vibrantly grow stronger each day. Their skin is beautiful, their eyes are like engaging jewels and their bodies grow stronger right in front of your eyes.
But what about their spiritual needs? What about our spiritual needs? Just like mothers milk, there is only one thing we need and that’s a right relationship with Jesus in our life. Everything falls into place once this happens. We get baptized, the Holy Spirit inhabits our lives, we partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly, we pray daily, we make offerings to our Lord, we gather to worship and praise, we read God’s word and through all of this our faith builds over time. When you attend church, you should leave feeling spiritually fed – regardless of your background and age. Start to ask some very serious questions if this isn’t happening because the problem can be either you or your church.
Picking the right church is a bit tricky. Here’s my litmus test:
1. All Christian churches regardless of denomination will profess to teach God’s word in truth and purity so this in effect is not a good enough discriminator. You need to know the bible yourself to make an informed assessment of this.
2. Look for churches that read God’s word regularly, in every single worship service, and also verify that all portions are being used throughout the year – every book, every verse and every word is important.
3. Look for churches that administer the Sacraments according to God’s word. Yes, you need to know that much as well.
4. Look for churches that pray together in every service.
5. Look for preaching that is based on God’s word and that uses some scripture throughout.
6. Look for churches that confess their sins together, that are reminded of the forgiveness of sins and receive the absolution of their sins on a regular basis.
7. Look for churches that start their worship in the name of the Triune God.
8. Look for fans of the coffee hour, jello, the Green Bay Packers and Star Wars (just kidding, you know who you are.)
The common theme here is God and His word, not man or his feeble traditions.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to find a church if you don’t have one already.
Steadfast Believers by Steve Brown and Mike Westendorf
A few weeks back, Mike posted an article on FaceBook from a Pastor who was quitting the praise band for a variety of reasons. This article was ultimately met with a rebuttal from another Pastor who won’t be quitting the praise band anytime soon for a different bunch of reasons. In between these posts was a plethora of worship gold voiced by believers.
The following excerpts from the FaceBook comments show a fraction of the beautiful faith that exists within our fellowship as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in and among us.
“We make a big mistake when we try to limit the Holy Spirit to our way of thinking.” – PB
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“Just because it’s contemporary doesn’t make it bad, shallow, or irreverent.” – SB
Psalm 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
“In reality, everything we humans bring before God in worship is a filthy rag and only made pleasing by the blood of Jesus!” – SB
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
“I leave those services (contemporary worship) humming many of those songs all week.” – SA
Jeremiah 15:16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.
“I believe the Holy Spirit worked in my heart through this (contemporary) music to strengthen my faith, it has completely changed me!” – PE
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
“If you disqualify all Christian radio, you are doing what the devil wants you to do. He wins!” – PE
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
“In the last ten years… the way I worship Jesus has changed. I don’t just worship Him on Sunday or for ten minutes a day. I try to worship Him in everything I do. That includes the type of music I listen to and sing and play.” – DRS
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
“I believe that the Lord has given us this music (contemporary) to reach those people who may not be able to connect with traditional four part harmonies and hymns.” – DRS
“Music is a method of communication and we need to be able to speak everyone’s language. If it’s an organ for you, great, but what about an electric guitar roaring like the mighty power of God?” – SA
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law though I myself am not under the law, so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law, so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.
“I would still rather listen to a Contemporary Christian radio station singing about Jesus even it’s not perfect then a pop station that plays music about stuff that goes against everything I believe.” – DRS
“But for God, worship is a matter of the heart not a matter of form.” – SB
Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
“We should have services that you can bring a friend to that’s never gone to church and they should feel comfortable and be able to connect with the service. Musically speaking a language that they’re familiar with helps a lot.” – SA
“It was contemporary Christian music that the Holy Spirit used to bring me to faith, and gave me the desire to go to church in the first place.” – SB
“I guess I would say… a feeling of fullness with the Holy Spirit.” – RP
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Steve’s Conclusions: So you might be wondering, why do these people, that place a value on contemporary Christian music; worship in a traditional, liturgical, confessional and hymn-loving setting? The answer is quite simple. We are in agreement with the doctrines and biblical interpretations of this denomination. This is where God wants us to be. We are one body and we commune with one another in unity. Our fellowship is defined by our biblical beliefs based on the absolute inerrancy of scripture. The Gospel is the glue that binds us together and we realize that musical style should not even make the list of fellowship discriminators.
In essence, these responses do show that contemporary music connects on a heart-felt level with some people in the same way that hymns do with other people and this involvement of our hearts is crucial for our worship. The big issue is that there needs to be a Christian relationship based on love that understands and accepts the need for these stylistic differences because the adherence to scripture and doctrine can be maintained, and in the end our objective is to share God’s words in whatever methods that works best.
Yes, we differ in things like musical taste in the same way as we do in our choice of clothes, but this is just part of being the diverse body of Christ that God intended us to be. In the end, we may not be steadfast Lutherans, but more importantly, our hope is to be steadfast but humble believers and followers of Christ.
Simply stated, “Christ’s Love is Our Calling!”
Mike’s Conclusions: As I read the comments of the two viewpoints from the original pastoral blog posts and the responses that we see from many people, it continues to reinforce the idea of effective “communication” and “language” within our worship settings. A simple way to define worship in our settings is that “God comes to us (word and sacrament) and His people respond to Him (praise) and one another about Him (proclamation)”. Another thought about worship is that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Regardless of what your worship preference is, “the mountaintop”, the best ever worship experiences will always include all four of these elements. Lastly is the idea that communication is much more than the words we say, but it also is the way we say them as well as what people see when words are said and what the overall “environment” says within the context of those words.
When I read these comments and the scripture passages that Steve beautifully related, it continues to reinforce the notion that people receive the communication of God’s Word and the stories of His faithfulness differently. When they respond to God, they long to have the words and melodies that allow them to praise and proclaim Christ that involves the heart, soul, mind and strength. We want to communicate back to God and back to others about our God who has been faithful to us and to me personally.
Because we are varied people, we speak different languages in worship and certain styles and environments of singing, songwriting, and yes – even listening, engage people differently in worship. If we truly desire that people hear God as He comes to us with the fullness of the Gospel message, and if we truly desire and hope that people can and joyfully respond to God through praise and proclamation, then we must realize the beauty that contemporary worship can offer, especially when it is birthed out of the biblical understanding of Jesus that we joyfully preach in the Confessional Lutheran church with songs that have a powerful effect similar to the way as traditional hymns do.
God paints in beautiful colors, I love it when our worship includes the languages, environments and communication styles of traditional, blended, contemporary and modern worship settings married to our understanding of the true Gospel message.
1 Corinthians 12:15-20 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Why do some denominations get more physical in worship than mine?
Some Scripture to Consider:
“Love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength.” Mark 12:33
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. – Philippians 1:20
Next, let’s look at the various forms of physical expression and their biblical roots.
The Spoken Voice:
1. Speaking – Psalm 34:1 says, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
2. Shouting – Psalm 27:6 says, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.” Also see Ps 47:1, Ezra 3:1 and Ps 35:27.
3. Singing – Psalm 47:6 says, “Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.” Also see Ps 105:22 and Ps 92:1.
4. Laughter – Psalm 126:1-2 says, “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”
5. Weeping – Luke 7:38, 47 says “…and as she stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them … [Jesus said] her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Also see Ezra 3:12-13.
1. Bowing – Psalm 95:6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Also see Ex 12:27, Ex 34:8, 2 Chronicles 20:18 and Philippians 2:10. Bowing is a sign of respect towards a king. 2. Standing – Psalm 119:120 says, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.” Also see Neh 8:2 & 5. Standing shows respect and reverence. 3. Dancing – Psalm 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.” Also see Ps 150:4, 2 Samuel 6:14-15 and Ex 15:20. Dancing is an expression of joy and celebration. 4. Kneeling – Psalm 95:6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Also see Mt 18:26. Kneeling is a sign of humility before our King and an expression of submission. Jesus taught us himself on the night that he was betrayed to kneel and pray. 5. Stillness – Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
1. Playing Instruments – Psalm 33:2, 3 says, “Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
2. Clapping – Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Also see Isa 55:12 and Ps 98:8. Clapping is a form of showing happiness and excitement. The best kind of clapping is the natural applause that occurs when the congregation is overwhelmed by God’s grace and wants to show thankfulness. 3. Lifting Hands – Psalm 63:4 says, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Also see Ps 134:2 , Neh 8:6 and 1 Timothy 2:8. Lifted hands are a sign of gratefulness, dependence, expectation, reverence, celebration and surrender and can also be a posture for prayer. There are a total of 39 biblical commands to raise one’s hands either in blessing or in supplication in worship.
You will note that most of the above passages come from the Psalms. David liked to worship the Lord with all of his being; heart, mind and body and all of his senses. Furthermore, he did not care what other people thought of his worship. He had an audience of One.
I do worship in a congregation and denomination that is not overly expressive. I think that our limited use of expressiveness is more of a tradition and a characteristic trait of our Lutheran forefathers than anything else. I do not sense that it limits our worship or the outpouring of our hearts or that we refrain out of fear of man, wrong teaching or complacency.
Some things to consider:
1. There are warnings in scripture of using physical expressiveness wrongly:
a. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (Is. 1:15)
b. The hands we lift to worship God should be holy hands (1 Tim. 2:8), made so through our humble trust in the atoning work of the Savior.
2. We never prove our devotion to God by external acts alone. God looks upon the heart. But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7
3. We are to worship with reverence. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe – Heb 12:28
I realize that this may be a dividing-line topic between denominations. It should not be. Yes, I am more reserved in my physical expressiveness than others might be. Yes, I see the scriptural basis for using our bodies in worship. But I am at peace being reserved in worship, and at the same time I can respect those who worship a little differently in this regard because our God is great enough and worthy enough to be glorified using many more forms of worship than I can possibly offer myself. In the end I pray that our churches be filled with the kind of truths and expressions that most clearly communicate to others the value of the One that we worship.
In our church, we have one blended worship service per month where we follow our traditional liturgy to some extent, but we use contemporary music in place of hymns. I assist with the defining of the music for these blended services so over the years, we have come up with a format that works for everyone involved (Pastor, Church Secretary & Musicians). We basically use a WORD document that is a table of all of the information that we all need to do our jobs. For example, it contains the scripture references for each song and how the song fits into the weekly theme (information that our Pastor needs), it also contains bulletin information on how the song will be arranged and sung (information that our secretary needs) and the song choices (information that the musicians need). In addition to this basic information, I also include details on the level of difficulty, which is also information that our Pastor has asked for since he is not familiar with most of these songs and he likes to keep an eye on how much new music is being used and the level of difficulty so that the congregation doesn’t get overwhelmed in any given week. And yes, I’ve been known to throw too much at them so the Pastoral check is appreciated.
We also follow a format that requires 7 songs per service. These are as follows:
Pre-Service – Band only
Opening Song – Congregational
Psalm of the Day – Congregational
Musical Response to the Forgiveness/Absolution of Sins – Congregational
Hymn of the Day – Congregational
Offertory Music – Band only
Closing Song – Congregational
In our monthly table, all of the song choices are listed in order and identified accordingly. I also list any lyrics for any new songs that aren’t in our songbooks for Pastoral review. The table is disseminated at least one month in advance so that everyone has enough time for preparation.
This is a partial view of what a typical table looks like (being a landscape document it does not all fit on the screen in this BLOG format) :
Songs Listed in the Suggested Order:
Location (which songbook)
Chosen based on:
Song Instructions (for the Bulletin)
I Will Praise Him Still
Praise in difficult times
Sing through twice
Will have to be copied as an insert
Townend & Getty
V1, V2, Chorus, V3, Chorus
Hymn of the Day
Speak O Lord
Townend & Getty
Word of God
Word of God – Illumination
Will have to be copied as an insert
The Gospel Lesson
Jesus can bring the dead back to life
The Hope of Your Call
Benediction, Discipleship, Applying God’s word in our lives
V, Chorus, V, Chorus, Chorus 2, End
Will have to be copied as an insert. I believe that Laura has it scanned and saved on Leah’s PC.
I am making a copy of this document available in my file download area if anyone is interested in using the format. I would also be happy to email a copy to anyone that would like one. My address is “sjbrown58 at yahoo.com.” Please use the @ in place of the “at”; I use this technique to avoid unwanted emails sent from automated systems. The file for download is named “5-Easter 6 May 9.doc”.
Finally, I’d like to make a few comments on each type of song being selected.
The Pre-Service music is typically chosen to match the worship theme. I usually use this opportunity to either introduce new music to the congregation that we might use in the future, or I use music with real good lyrics but are too difficult for congregational singing.
The Opening Song is either chosen to match the day’s worship theme, or if I’m having trouble with enough songs matching the theme, I will choose a more general opening song that is either welcoming, introductory, or deals with preparation for worship. I maintain a list of these types of songs.
The music used with the Psalm of the Day is always a song based on the Psalm being read for that day. We typically read the Psalm responsively and sing the song in between the readings.
The Forgiveness/Absolution is not matched to the day’s theme. It always deals with either Forgiveness and/or Absolution of sins. Again, I maintain a list of these types of songs and I have about 2 dozen that I use in rotation.
The Hymn of the Day is chosen as the closest match to the scripture readings, and preferably to the Gospel lesson.
The Offertory music is usually also chosen to match the day’s theme but if I’m having trouble locating music, I will also consider Stewardship-themed music or prayerful songs. I also use this opportunity to either introduce new music to the congregation that we might use in the future, or I use music with real good lyrics but are too difficult for congregational singing.
The Closing Song is chosen to either match the day’s theme or to have a blessing/departing message. Again, I maintain a list of these types of songs and I have about 2 dozen that I use in rotation.
I do hope that this article was beneficial for someone out there that is starting to use blended worship in their church. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need further assistance. In addition, there are many other articles of this nature in this BLOG that can be found by looking in the “Blended Worship” category.
On 9/14, we used the hymn “Take My Life & Let it Be” as the theme for worship. All of our music was tightly knitted to this theme.
“Take My Life” by Scott Underwood
“Take My Life, and Let it Be” by Henri A. Cesar Malan– Contemporary Arrangement
“Take Our Lives” by Andy Park
“My Life is in You, Lord” by Daniel Gardner
Our Pastor then led a series of devotions on personal commitment and weaved these into Havergal’s hymn. We sang individual verses of the hymn after hearing God’s word as it pertained to the subject matter as shown below.
Devotion #1: 2 Corinthians 5:15-17
“Take What I Do, Lord!”
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Hymn Response: “Take My Life and Let it Be” (CW 469:1,2)
Devotion #2: 1 Chronicles 16:8,9
“Take What I Say, Lord!”
8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
Hymn Response: “Take My Life and Let it Be” (CW 469:3)
Devotion #3: 2 Corinthians 8:7,12
“Take What I Have, Lord!”
7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving…
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
Hymn Response: “Take My Life and Let it Be” (CW 469:4-6)
Song: “Take My Life And Let it Be” (by Frances Havergal, Chris Tomlin & Louie Giglio) – Sung by the Choir
The net effect was a worshipful meeting that will stick with me for quite some time, and I will always sing the hymn “Take My Life & Let it Be” again with a deep spiritual and heartfelt connection. One thing that kept crossing my mind during the service was the word “Take” and how we were using it in worship. It’s one thing to do our best in offering our gifts, times and talents to the Lord – our voices, our offerings, our praise, etc.; but as for me – I’m still a sinner and I can get stingy with my Lord. So this song says more than I’ll do my best – it says; “Lord – TAKE!” Take my life, my hands, my voice, my silver, my gold, my moments, my feet, my lips, my intellect, my will, my heart, my love and finally myself. It’s all in that hymn. At our church, Jesus tells us every other Sunday to “Take of His body and His blood.” Finally, I was able to say: “Jesus – TAKE!!!”
In the past couple of decades (which is young in term of church music), there has been some really nice music written on the Lord’s Prayer. I was thinking that it would make a very nice themed service to dwell on the Lord’s Prayer. Listed below are a few song suggestions and a couple of other resources.
“Let Us Pray” – Steven Curtis Chapman
“Hallowed Father” – Jeremy Riddle
“As it is in Heaven” – Matt Maher
“Our Father in Heaven” – Brian Doerksen
I’m not going to include all the song lyrics because this post would be too long, but you can watch and hear some of these pieces below. I will include Matt Maher’s lyrics because I am particularly fond of them.
Let Us Pray:
As it is in Heaven:
Michael W. Smith also put a version of the Lord’s Prayer to music which would work equally as well.
As it is in Heaven
Our Father, who art in Heaven; Hallowed be thy name.
Come and let Your glory, Come and let Your glory fall.
Our Father, who art in Heaven; The rocks cry out Your fame.
Come and let Your glory, Come and let Your glory fall.
I will sing, sing a new song; I will sing, sing a new song,
I will sing, sing a new song to the Lord.
Let your kingdom come; Let your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven; Every eye proclaim,
The mercy of Your name; On earth as it is in heaven.
God give us new every morning; Mercy his daily bread.
In the name of Jesus; In the name of Jesus we pray.
And lead us, not to temptation; But deliver us with Your hand.
In the name of Jesus; In the name of Jesus we pray; Father we pray!
I will sing, sing a new song; I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song to the Lord.
Let your kingdom come; Let your will be done; On earth as it is in heaven.
Every eye proclaim, The mercy of Your name, On earth as it is in heaven.
For the kingdom is yours; And the power is yours; And the glory forever Amen.
For the kingdom is yours; And the power is yours; And the glory forever Amen.
For the kingdom is yours
”As it is in Heaven”, 2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), spiritandsong.com (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Alletrop Music (Admin. by Music Services), by Matt Maher and Ed Cash, CCLI # 4669748
Responsive Version of the Lord’s Prayer (from Pastor Rick Tuttle’s “Seelsorger” file server – this site requires membership; which is free but is limited to those in either the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) or denominations in fellowship with the WELS such as the ELS.
Responsive lord’s prayer
M: O God, through Jesus’ sacrifice you have restored us as your forgiven children. In his name we pray:
C: Our Father, who art in heaven,
M: Help us to know you through your inspired Word and to live by it as children in your family.
C: Hallowed be thy name.
M: Give us your Holy Spirit to rule in our hearts, and use us to extend your kingdom of grace to others.
C: Thy kingdom come.
M: Make us zealous to carry out you will as gladly as the angels do, and to conform our will to yours.
C: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
M: Merciful Lord, since you are the provider of all things necessary for our bodies; fill us with trust.
C: Give us this day our daily bread.
M: Continue to erase our sins, and help us gladly to forgive and to do good to those who wrong us.
C: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
M: We know the devil seeks to destroy our souls and the world lures us to ruin by appealing to the desires of our flesh. Guard us from the poison of misbelief and the trap of unrepented sin.
C: And lead us not into temptation.
M: Keep safe our bodies and souls, our property and honor, and above all send the Holy Spirit to preserve our faith in Christ which leads to life everlasting.
C: But deliver us from evil.
M: For all these petitions we look to you as King of Kings and Lord of your church.
C: For thine is the kingdom,
M: You alone hold the power to grant our requests.
C: and the power,
M: We worship you from whom all blessings flow.
C: and the glory forever and ever.
M: Relying on Jesus, who cancelled our sins and made us acceptable in your sight, we pray with confidence:
C: Amen. It shall be so.
A Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer
by Sarah Dylan Breuer
we honor you,
and we honor all that you have made.
Renew the whole world
in the image of your love.
Give us what we need for today,
and a hunger to see the whole world fed.
Strengthen us for what lies ahead;
heal us from the hurts of the past;
give us courage to follow your call in this moment.
From Luther’s Small Catechism (Adapted for Worship Recitation):
Congregation: Our Father in heaven
Pastor: With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true Father and that we are his true children, so that we may pray to him as boldly and confidently as dear children ask their dear father.
Congregation: Hallowed be your name
Pastor: God’s name is certainly holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it holy.
Lay Reader: God’s name is kept holy when his Word is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches and lives contrary to God’s Word dishonors God’s name among us. Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!
Congregation: Your kingdom come.
Pastor: God’s kingdom certainly comes by itself even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.
Lay Reader: God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and lead a godly life now on earth and forever in heaven.
Congregation: Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Pastor: God’s good and gracious will certainly is done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
Lay Reader: God’s will is done when he breaks and defeats every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, which try to prevent us from keeping God’s name holy and letting his kingdom come. And God’s will is done when he strengthens and keeps us firm in his Word and in the faith as long as we live. This is his good and gracious will.
Congregation: Give us today our daily bread.
Pastor: God surely gives daily bread without our asking, even to all the wicked, but we pray in this petition that he would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
Lay Reader: Daily bread includes everything that we need for our bodily welfare, such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
Congregation: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against US.
Pastor: We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins or because of them deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we deserved them, but we ask that he would give them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.
Lay Reader: So we too will forgive from the heart and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
Congregation: Lead us not into temptation.
Pastor: God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.
Congregation: But deliver us from evil.
Pastor: In conclusion we pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil that threatens body and soul, property and reputation, and finally when our last hour comes, grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven.