The Way of the Cross

Services for Lent, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday

One goal of both the worship planning team and the Art as Worship team at New Life Church in Guelph, Ontario, is to incorporate worship arts that support a liturgical season or a particular sermon series. These arts include visual art, dance, and drama, and each engages our congregation on another level while inviting all ages into the narrative. The following article provides a detailed list of elements that supported our Lenten sermon series The Way of the Cross. This series included sermon texts, visuals from the art installation created for this series, orders of worship, and information about the exhibit in our art gallery.

Sermon Series

Our pastor, Ed Jager, preached through the book of Mark, with the first Sunday of Lent aligning with the Triumphal Entry, the text normally reserved for Palm Sunday. While this series, “The Way of the Cross,” doesn’t follow the typical Lenten structure, the effect is a slowing down of Holy Week. The reality is that many of our congregants do not attend worship multiple times during Holy Week and often miss the full story, catching only Palm Sunday and Easter. With this drawn-out account following Mark’s narrative, congregants are given the opportunity to encounter the full story as well as the Lenten themes of repentance, discipleship, and self-sacrifice.

First Sunday of Lent: Mark 11:1–11, “Triumphal Entry: Glimpse of the Glory of Christ”

Second Sunday of Lent: Mark 11:12–26, “Clearing the Temple”

Third Sunday of Lent: Mark 14:1–11, “Jesus Anointed at Bethany: How Do We Offer Jesus Our Love and Worship?”

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Mark 14:12–26, “The Lord’s Supper”

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Mark 14:32–42, “The Garden”

Palm Sunday: Mark 14–15, “Trial and Denial”

Good Friday: Mark 15:33–41, “The Centurion’s Confession”

Easter: Mark 16:1–8, “The Words of Faith, Love, and Hope”

The series ended with a Pentecost service based on Acts 2 titled “Pentecostal Spirit,” which will appear in the next issue of Reformed Worship.

Art Installation

The art installation (p. 5, 7) was created by Bette-Ann Bruulsema and Nicole Ensing. The background is an 8′ x 16′ piece of rigid foam insulation, which is very light and can be hung with just a few nails. Sand, fireplace grit, and ash were mixed into the paint. Nails were also embedded into the painted area. To finish we hung a spruce 2′ x 4′ cross in front of the panels. The installation went through a process of changes as the Lenten season progressed and was kept up until Pentecost.

Orders of Worship

First Sunday of Lent

Gathering Song
“Come into God’s Presence Singing ‘Alleluia’” Anonymous, GtG 413, SNC 3

Call to Worship
Behind all things
behind the grey surface
there is a glory escaping
born of heaven
and belongs to heaven

a light that welcomes
a more profound way of seeing things
that transfigures the world

that casts a spell of hope
that sees the glory in the cross
and life within death

it is a glory
that meets us here
on this mountain
where Jesus Christ
covered in the dust of the world
is caught up in the glory of heaven
welcome to the mountain
—Roddy Hamilton, New Kilpatrick Parish Church of Scotland, nkchurch.org.uk. Used by permission.

Songs
“Holy Lord” Bell
“Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates” Polman, PfAS 24B, PsH 163
“Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” Brown, Bloche

Confession and Assurance
God of grace,
sometimes discipleship is so difficult.

We see you standing in front of us and we look for glory.
Then you tell us to expect heartbreak and challenge.
We get a glimpse of your glory,
and we are confused, frightened, unsure what to do or say.

God of grace, made known in Jesus the Christ,
in the challenge and in the glory
you call us to look toward you,
to listen to you.

Grant us the grace and wisdom to watch,
to listen,
to follow,
to learn,
and, in the end,
to possibly understand,
as we join you on The Way,
as we explore the glorious Kingdom. Amen.
—”Prayer for Grace,” Rev. Gord Waldie, inspired by Matthew 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–9; Luke 9:28–36, worshipofferings.blogspot.com/2016/02/, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.

Song
“Your Name” Packiam, Baloche

Message
Mark 11:1–11, “Triumphal Entry”

Sermon Notes
The overriding thought is the contrast between this joyful entry full of hope and celebration versus the looming betrayal and suffering of the cross. The main theme of the triumphal entry, naturally, is triumph, or victory. Triumph means that the war has been won. That’s an important message. In Winston Churchill’s words: “This isn’t the beginning and it isn’t the end, but is the beginning of the end.” The people who celebrated at Jerusalem had that notion in their minds. They might not have understood the event correctly, but on that day they got the celebration right.

Song of Response and Offering
“Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” Wesley, LUYH 590, GtG 610, SSS 439

Prayer of the People

Sending Litany
This is a vision of the way it can be, the way it should be—
Shouts of welcome, a joyful procession,
a community celebrating together.

The same vision is offered to us today:
We can welcome Christ into our lives;
We can celebrate his transforming power.

How swiftly things changed back then,
How swiftly we, too, can be distracted.

May we hold fast to his vision of goodness—
Peace from the practice of justice,
equality from the practice of respect.

As this week unfolds,

We will let ourselves be overtaken by God’s love
We will pour it back out into the world.
—Jeanyne Slettom, 2015, © Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

Closing Song
“Shout to the Lord” Zschech, LUYH 603, SSS 426

Blessing

Second Sunday of Lent

Gathering Song
“Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down” Doherty, LUYH 510, SSS 400

Call to Worship
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.

Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.

Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.

Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God’s hope to all people.

Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.

Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.

Lent calls us to journey with God.

Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.

—Thom M. Shuman © 2020. lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.com. Permission pending.

Opening Prayer
Eternal God, whose signature we see, if we dare to look, in the creation of the universe, help us this hour to look and to listen for your handwriting and your voice in this place, among these people.

Connect our temporary praise to your timeless rhythms, your ageless melodies, your everlasting joyful noise.

Guide us now to focus upon you, knowing that in you, our distractions become new possibilities for action.

Breathe life into our singing, our praying, our speaking, our listening, our touching, that all these activities might become more than they are. In our worship we reach out to you, O God, knowing that you have already enfolded us in your arms. In Jesus, we pray. Amen.
—Inspired by Psalm 19, myredeemerlives.com/prayers.

Songs
“Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” Brown
“Your Great Name” Nordhoff and Neale

Communion as Confession and Assurance
“Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer” Williams, LUYH 43, GtG 65, SSS 51
“All Who Are Thirsty” Brown and Robertson

Message
Mark 11:12–26, “Clearing the Temple”

Song of Response
“This Is Amazing Grace” Riddle, Farro, and Wickham

Offering
“I Will Change Your Name” Butler

Prayer of the People

Closing Song
“King of Heaven” Ingram and Baloche

Blessing

Third Sunday of Lent

Gathering Song
“He Knows My Name” Walker, LUYH 339

Call to Worship
Jeremiah 23:23–24
“Over My Head” Spiritual, arr. Soulodre, Lee
“God Himself Is with Us” Tersteegen, LUYH 565, GtG 412

Confession and Assurance
“Come As You Are” Glover, Crowder, and Maher
“Wonderful, Merciful Savior” Rodgers and Wyse

Message
Mark 14:1–11, “Jesus Anointed at Bethany”

Song of Response
“My Jesus, I Love Thee” Featherstone, LUYH 557, SSS 303

Offering

Prayer of the People

Closing Song
“Will You Come and Follow Me” Bell, LUYH 742, GtG 726, SSS 598

Blessing

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Gathering Song
“Be Still, for the Presence” Evans, LUYH 532

Call to Worship
Friends of God, believe this—
God loved the world,
God loves the world,
we are the beloved!

May the truth of this great love story
shine through our worship today,
and renew our sense of calling.

So come, with your tiredness,
your frustrations and your discouragements;
come with your doubts, your fears,
and your longings;
come, to discover yet again
how Jesus reveals God’s love and mercy.

Come, in friendship to God
and to each other,
and in friendship to the world,
to listen for God’s Word to us,
to offer our prayers,
and to renew our calling.

Friends of God, let us worship!
—Ann Siddall © 2020. Inspired by John 3:14-21. Stillpoint Spirituality Centre, stillpointsa.org.au. Churches are given permission to reprint or reproduce for noncommercial use in worship services only.

Songs
“Holy God, We Praise Your Name” Walworth, LUYH 540, GtG 4, SSS 431
“Christ, Be All Around Me” Leeland and Smith

Confession and Assurance
Gracious God,
as those who strive to follow Jesus in our living
and to trust your power in our dying,
we gather to reflect upon the life that ended on a cross.

We recognize in ourselves
the strengths and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples:
although they loved him,
they disappointed and failed him.

And yet, gathering with these imperfect friends at this last meal
Jesus washed their feet in service,
and then extended the bread and cup to each.
Jesus called them to love one another,
and invited them to share in his very life
and in his acceptance of the road ahead.

We are humbled, honored and inspired
by the deep love Christ extended to the world,
and we take seriously the calling to be the body of Christ today.

Forgive us when we disappoint and fail you,
and guide us back to a place of trust and faithful living.

Grant us the vision to see the world as you see it,
with love and compassion for each creature and all of your creation.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray to you . . .

Our Father. . . .
—Written by the Rev. Kelly Burd, © 2020 Local Church Ministries, UCC. Published in Worship Ways, www.ucc.org/worship_worship-ways. Used by permission.

Song
“Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer” Becker, LUYH 660, SSS 345

Message
Mark 14:12–26; Exodus 12:1–14; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34, “The Lord’s Supper”

Song of Response
“Cornerstone” Mote, Liljero, Morgan

Offering
“Your Love Defends Me” Kerr and Maher

Prayer of the People

Closing Song
“Reign in Us” Glover and Neufeld

Blessing

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Gathering Song
“I Lift My Eyes Up” Doerksen

Call to Worship
Jeremiah 31:10–14

Songs
“Blessed Be Your Name” Redman
“God With Us” Ingram and Jordan

Confession and Assurance
Almighty God,
you have set before us the path
but we have wandered on our own
to try to find our way.

Sometimes we are like toddlers
and we hear your call and come back.

Other times, we are children testing boundaries,
ignoring Your call until fear finally makes us look back.

And still other times we are full of youthful rebellion,
demanding to be cut loose and set free,
not knowing how much we still need
to seek your wisdom and guidance.

But most of all, too often we think we are adults
and have figured it all out and know our own way,
only to stumble and stray so far.

Remind us, parental God,
that we are always your children,
that we are never fully grown up in your sight,
that we always have much to learn.

Help us to seek you every day,
to acknowledge that we need your wisdom and guidance,
and help us to return to the path and walk with you.

In the name of Christ,
who is our companion on this journey of faith, we pray. Amen.
—Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, Rev-o-lution.org.

Song
“Lord, I Need You” Maher

Message
Mark 14:32–42, “The Garden”

Song of Response
“Go to Dark Gethsemane” Montgomery, LUYH 161, GtG 220, SSS 171

Offering Communion
“Behold the Lamb” Getty and Townend
“Come to the Table” Van Beilen

Prayer of the People

Closing Song
“I Will Follow” Tomlin, Ingram, and Morgan

Blessing

Palm Sunday

Gathering Song
“Holy Is the Lord” Tomlin and Giglio

Call to Worship
“Praise Is Rising (Hosanna)” Brown and Baloche
“Holy Is the Lord” Tomlin and Giglio

Confession and Assurance
“Humble King” Brown
“Crown Him with Many Crowns” Bridges, LUYH 223, GtG 268, SSS 208

Message
Mark 14:53–72, “Trial and Denial”

Songs of Response
“Brokenness Aside” Leonard and Jordan
“No Longer Slaves” Johnson, Case, and Helser

Offering
“Beautiful Things” Gungor

Prayer of the People

Closing Song
“Behold Our God” Baird and Altrogge

Blessing

Art Gallery

New Life Church owns a copy of Elizabeth Steele Halstead’s book Visuals for Worship (out of print). Halstead included a CD with her book so it can be used as a congregational resource. The Art as Worship team chose to print selected images in a large format and exhibit them in our gallery throughout Lent. Halstead’s explanatory text was included under each image to help viewers more fully consider the work. As with all of our gallery exhibits, a brochure was created to promote the collection. See it online at tinyurl.com/RW138Brochure.

Good Friday

We planned our Good Friday worship around the dramatic reading of portions of John Flokstra’s “I Was There”. This service with embedded readings is available at tinyurl.com/RW138Ensing. John Flokstra’s entire script is available at tinyurl.com/RW138Flokstra.

Gathering Song
“Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service” Bayly, LUYH 928, PH 427, SSS 239

Call to Worship: A Story of Love
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son . . .” (John 3:16).

gather round
I have a story to tell
of one who reached inside himself
and took a handful of love
like a pile of stardust
and said: this is for you
it is all you need
it is all you will ever need
there is enough here
to change the whole world
take it

many laughed at him
mocked him
and ignored the invitation

but some dared to take it
and those who did
noticed something about this love
they found they could do what the gift-giver could do
they could stand with the lost
welcome the traveler
eat with the hungry
they found themselves doing what the man first did to them
give something of themselves to others
they became like the man
offering themselves
and as they offered themselves
others took the invitation
and many still do
and many still trust
it is enough to change the whole world
—Roddy Hamilton, New Kilpatrick Parish Church of Scotland, nkchurch.org.uk. Used by permission.

Offering
“Your Great Name” Nordhoff and Neale

Scripture Reading
Where can I go, where can I run, where can I be that I am not within your love?

If I sail on the wings of the wind or make my bed in hell, still there you find me.
If I change my appearance like trees through the seasons, still you see my roots.

No matter how dark I let my heart become,
no matter what doubts and questions I wrestle with in the night

Still there you are—still loving me.

I beat at the air with my fists; I curse the rain as it falls on my tear-clinched eyes.

Still there you are—still loving me.

And even when I don’t know how, who, or why . . .

Still . . . there . . . you are . . .
Still . . . loving . . . even me.

—Paraphrase of Psalm 139:7–12 by Rev. Nathan Decker

Dramatic Reading: “I Was There,” by John Flokstra
Scene 1
“Here I Am to Worship” Hughes

Scenes 6, 7, and 8
“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” Newton, Tomlin, LUYH 693

Scenes 9, 10, and 11
“Outrageous Grace” Birtill

Scene 12
“I Belong” Scott and Rainey

Message
Mark 15:33–41, “The Centurion’s Confession”

Song of Response
“Were You There” Spiritual, LUYH 166, GtG 228, SSS 176

Prayer

Closing Song
“One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)” Johnson, Gifford, Riddle

Blessing

Easter Sunday

Gathering Song
“My Redeemer Lives” Morgan

Call to Worship
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” Wesley, LUYH 182, GtG 245, SSS 181
“Low in the Grave He Lay” Lowry, LUYH 186, SSS 185
“Resurrection Hymn” Getty and Townend

Confession and Assurance: Pastoral Prayer for Easter
When everything was dark
and it seemed that the sun would never shine again,
your love broke through.

Your love was too strong,
too wide,
too deep
for death to hold.

The sparks cast by your love
dance and spread
and burst forth
with resurrection light.

Gracious God,
we praise you for the light of new life
made possible through Jesus.

We praise you for the light of new life
that shone on the first witnesses of resurrection.

We praise you for the light of new life
that continues to shine in our hearts today.

We pray that the Easter light of life, hope and joy,
will live in us each day;
and that we will be bearers of that light
into the lives of others. Amen.
—© The Revd Michaela Youngson, Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Used by permission.

Song
“This Is Amazing Grace” Riddle, Farro, and Wickham

Message
Mark 16:1–8, “The Words of Faith, Love, and Hope”

Response through Song and Offerings
“In Christ Alone” Getty and Townend, LUYH 770, SSS 656

Profession of Faith

Prayer of the People

Communion
“You Are My King” Foote
“Praise the King” Voss, Smith, Bryce, and Farren

Closing Song
“Mighty to Save” Fielding and Morgan, LUYH 611

Blessing

Nicole Ensing is a visual artist and musician. Formerly the worship coordinator of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ontario, she is also a member of her congregation’s Art as Worship team. Nicole is currently enjoying spending time in her home art studio. Her artist website is ensingband.wixsite.com/nicoleensingartist.