The Holiness of Ordinary Things

A Lenten Series on the Furnishings of the Church

During Lent 2004, our church focused on its furnishings as a way of learning how God uses the ordinary things in our lives to make the common holy.

We intentionally chose a simple worship outline with repetitive elements for this worship series. By using the same call to worship, call to confession, and assurance of forgiveness throughout the season of Lent, people (particularly children) were able to learn the responses and internalize them without them seeming rote. Using these elements each week also helped renew our focus on the Lenten themes of regular confession, forgiveness, and dedication.

Below you will find the Scripture passage, message, and sermon title for each of the Sundays in Lent, along with an announcement to be included in the bulletin the week before the service. You will notice from the bulletin announcements that several services included significant and thoughtful congregational participation.

Following that overview you’ll find the Lent worship template we used for each service and the repeated litanies. You’ll also find two complete service outlines: one for the first Sunday of Lent (which included communion) and one for Good Friday.

Series Overview

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-8; Luke 3:1-20

Message: “The Pulpit for the Word of God”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
Next week is the beginning of Lent. Many Christians throughout the world will celebrate this Wednesday as “Ash Wednesday.” On that day, the shape of a cross is inscribed on the foreheads of believers using ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday branches. This ritual is a visible reminder of our mortality, sinfulness, and our need for forgiveness; it points to our eternal union with Christ through his death and resurrection. During Lent we will continue meditating on those themes, rededicating ourselves to God, and remembering his great salvation in our weekly worship. To help us we will explore the theme “The Furnishings of the Church.”

When we enter a friend’s home, the furnishings tell us important things about the owners. What do the furnishings of our church’s house tell us about God’s house?

Certain crucial furnishings are common to almost all Christian churches. Thus we will reflect throughout Lent on “The Pulpit for the Word of God,” “The Font for Baptism,” “The Plate for the Bread of Life,” “The Cup for the Wine of Salvation,” “The Table for Hospitality and Fellowship,” and finally, on Good Friday, “The Cross for the World’s Crossroads.”

All of these items are familiar, ordinary things. Most of us have a Bible. We have plates for bread, sinks to use for washing, cups from which to drink. In the church, God uses the ordinary things of our lives and makes what is common holy. Keeping that in mind, we invite you to gather from your homes week by week items that correspond to the furnishings of the church so that we can bring them forward in each service as symbols of dedication to God.

For example, next Sunday morning we will be exploring “The Pulpit for the Word of God.” Perhaps you’ve inherited a family Bible. There will be an opportunity during the worship service when you can bring that Bible forward and place it on the communion table as a reminder of the purpose of God’s Word in our lives. Week by week we will be given additional opportunities to make our dedication to God concrete and visible in our worship.

If you have children, talk together about the similarities and differences between church furnishings and the ordinary furnishings of your home. Decide together about what you can bring for the appropriate Sundays and enlist their help in bringing the items to the front of the church.

Second Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Genesis 1; Psalm 119; Revelation 1

Message: “The Alpha and Omega”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
This week we will reflect on the purpose of God’s Word in our lives. Next week we will look at the Alpha and Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) and how they symbolize Christ, the Word made flesh. Why do you think Christ is described as the beginning and the end? Where else do you see the Alpha and Omega letters used today? What is their meaning in those contexts?

Third Sunday in Lent

Scripture: Romans 6:1-14

Message: “The Font for Baptism”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
Next Sunday we will turn our attention to Romans 6:1-14, “The Font for Baptism.” Why and how do we celebrate baptism? How is it both a symbol of dying and coming back to life?

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1-8; John 6:25-40; text: John 6:35

Message: “The Plate for the Bread of Life”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
Next Sunday our preaching passages will be 1 Kings 19:1-8 and John 6:25-40. Through the text from John 6:35 and the message “The Plate for the Bread of Life,” we will focus on digesting the diet God gives us.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Scripture: Matthew 26:17-30, 36-46

Message: “The Cup for the Wine of Salvation”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
On the fifth Sunday in Lent we will turn to Matthew 26:17-30, 36-46. We are made worthy to drink the “Cup for the Wine of Salvation” in communion because Jesus did not turn away from drinking the cup of God’s punishment for the sin of humanity. Perhaps there is an ordinary item from your daily life that reminds you of a time when you were suffering or in danger, but were given strength and courage to go on by the reminder of Jesus’ suffering for you. If so, you may bring that object to the cross at the front of the sanctuary during our worship next week.

Sixth Sunday in Lent—Passion Sunday

Scripture: Genesis 18:1-1; Hebrews 13:1-2

Message: “The Table for Hospitality and Fellowship”

Bulletin Announcement (for previous week’s bulletin):
The sixth Sunday in Lent is known by two names: Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This year we continue our series on the furnishings of the church by remembering “The Table for Fellowship and Hospitality.” We will focus on the surprising guests Abraham and Sarah hosted in Genesis 18. May we also use this time to prepare for celebrating communion on Good Friday, when God, who abandoned his Son on the Cross, nevertheless offers us the greatest gift of hospitality—the memory of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

First Sunday in Lent, Communion Service

Prelude

Welcome

Lenten Call to Worship: Selections from Psalm 51

Hymn: “Come, Thou, Almighty King,” CH 8, PH 139, PsH 246, TH 101, WR 148

God’s Greeting

Lenten Prayer of Confession

God Assures Our Forgiveness

God’s Rule of Thankfulness
You shall have no other gods before me.
It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
You shall not make for yourself an idol.
God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool. . . . Let your yes be yes, and your no, no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
Honor your father and your mother.
For God said, “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.”
You shall not murder.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
You shall not commit adultery.
All who look at another person lustfully have already committed adultery in their hearts.
You shall not steal.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery . . . theft. . . . These make us unclean.
You shall not give false testimony.
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. . . . For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
You shall not covet.
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.
—taken from the Psalter Hymnal, Faith Alive Christian Resources, p.1013

Song of Joyful Commitment: “Lamb of God” CH 302, SNC 253, SWM 124, WR 281

Prayer for the Holy Spirit’s Leading

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:1-8; Luke 3:1-20

Sermon: “The Pulpit for the Word of God”

Song of Response: “Oh, Jesus, I Have Promised,” CH 676, PH 388, PsH 285, TH 654, WR 458

Prayers of the People

The Lord’s Supper (The following is the 1994 Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper from the Christian Reformed Church.)

The Thanksgiving
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right for us to give thanks and praise.
With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, whose coming opened to us the way of salvation and whose triumphant return we eagerly await. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name.

Song of Praise: “Holy, Holy, Holy,” PsH 626, SFL 66, WR 739

The Institution
We give thanks to God the Father that our Savior, Jesus Christ, before he suffered, gave us this memorial of his sacrifice, until he comes again. At his last supper, the Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me.” For whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Therefore we proclaim our faith as signed and sealed in this sacrament:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Prayer of Consecration
Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit so that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we and all your saints be united with Christ and remain faithful in hope and love. Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of your kingdom. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray, “Our Father . . .”

The Invitation
Congregation of Jesus Christ, the Lord has prepared his table for all who love him and trust in him alone for their salvation. All who are truly sorry for their sins, who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and who desire to live in obedience to him as Lord, are now invited to come with gladness to the table of the Lord. The gifts of God for the people of God!

The Passing of Bread and Wine

Songs of Meditation: “Gift of Finest Wheat” PH 521, PsH 300, WR 705

Song of Dedication: “You Are Worthy” PsH 232

Offering

God’s Blessing

Our Parting Praise: “Come, Thou, Almighty King” CH 8, PH 139, PsH 246, TH 101, WR 148
“Father, I Adore You” CH 191, PsH 284, SFL 28, WR 143

Good Friday Communion Service

Prelude

Call to Worship from Isaiah 6
I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
The whole earth is full of his glory!
The whole earth is full of his glory!
God of all times and all places, who makes our paths straight and our rugged places plain; in Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, you opened for us the path to eternal life. Grant that we may faithfully walk in your holy ways; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

God’s Greeting
We remember that on this day, you, O God, Creator of all, Father of your Son Jesus, left him alone—beaten, bleeding, and stretched on a cross—between heaven and earth. Yet because Jesus bore your anger and drank the cup we cannot drink, you embraced him and made us your children.
May we never abandon you, O God. We thank you for giving us grace when we have lived in disgrace. We praise you for giving us mercy when we have lived in vengeance. We pray that you will bless us with peace and free us from war in our hearts and in our lives, so that we can bless you with goodness and beauty. Amen.

Songs of Worship
“Holy, Holy, Holy, My Heart” SNC 19, SWM 27, WR 737
“There Is a Redeemer” CH 308, SNC 145, SWM 128, WR 117

The Litany of Penitence
Let us pray.
Holy and merciful God, we confess to you and to one another and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, O God.
We have not listened to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, O God.
We confess to you, O God, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience in our lives,
we confess to you, O God.
Our self-indulgent ways and our exploitation of other people,
we confess to you, O God.
Our anger at our own frustration and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
we confess to you, O God.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
we confess to you, O God.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
we confess to you, O God.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
accept our repentance, O God.
For our waste and pollution of your creation and lack of concern for those who come after us,
accept our repentance, O God.
Restore us, O God, and let your anger depart from us.
Hear us, O God, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation,
that we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of our Savior,
bring us with all your saints to the joy of Christ’s
resurrection. Amen.

—From Book of Common Prayer, Massey H. Shepherd, Jr., pp. 267-268, alt., (public domain). Also in TWS J.2.2.4

Prayers of the People

Offerings of Thanks

Prayer of Dedication

Prayer of Illumination

Scripture: Luke 9:51-62; Luke 23:26-56

Message: “The Cross for the World’s Crossroads”

Song: “What Wondrous Love” CH 314, PH 85, PsH 379, SFL 169, TH 261, WR 257

The Lord’s Supper

The Invitation
Hear the gracious words of our Savior: “Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Song: “Jesus, Remember Me” PH 599, SNC 143, SFL 168, WR 285

Song and Litany: “Psalm 22” SNC 142
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus:
dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.
According to this commandment:
we remember his death, we proclaim his resurrection, we await his coming in glory.

The Institution
We give thanks that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and, after giving thanks to you, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
[During the passing of bread, we sing “Eat This Bread” SNC 254, WR 697]

In the same way he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.” The gifts of God for the people of God.
[During the passing of the grape juice, we sing “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended” PH 93, PsH 386, TH 248, WR 262]

Parting Song: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” CH 316, PH 98, PsH 383, TH 247, WR 284

God’s Blessing

Dismissal in Silence to Await the Day of Resurrection

 

Excerpt

Lenten Order of Worship

Prelude

Welcome

Lenten Call to Worship: Selections from Psalm 51
Have mercy on us, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out our transgressions.
Wash away all our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin.
Cleanse us with hyssop, and we will be clean;
wash us, and we will be whiter than snow.

Create in us pure hearts, O God, and renew steadfast spirits within us.
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.

Hymns

God’s Greeting

Lenten Call to Confession
The proof of God’s amazing love is this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us. Because we have faith in him, we dare approach God with confidence, trusting that God will forgive our sin and cleanse us from every kind of wrong. Let us confess our sins to Almighty God.

Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” st. 1 PH 97, PsH 381, WR 272

Lenten Prayer of Confession
God of compassion, in Jesus Christ you did not disdain the company of sinners but welcomed them with love. Look upon us in mercy, we pray.
Our sins are more than we can bear; our past enslaves us; our misdeeds are beyond correcting. Forgive the wrongs we cannot undo; free us from a past we
cannot change; heal what we can no longer fix.

Grace our lives with your love and turn the tears of our past into the joys of new life with you.

Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” st. 3 PH 97, PsH 381, WR 272

God Assures Our Forgiveness:
Hear the good news! The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness.
We are glad to receive the good news of the gospel: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Response of Gratitude

God’s Rule of Thankfulness

Song of Joyful Commitment

Prayer for the Holy Spirit’s Leading

Scripture Reading

Sermon

Song of Response

Prayers of the People

Offerings of Thanks

God’s Blessing

Our Parting Praise

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