Unless a Grain of Wheat Falls: A Service of Installation

Though this worship service was prepared for a specific event, it was intentionally constructed with an eye for broader use. The theme is foundational to the Christian life; dying and rising. Therefore feel free to borrow from it, in both structure and detail, for a wide range of worship services—including baptism celebrations and commissioning services.

The! service was prepared for the installation of Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. as president and professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary on September 27, 2002. (You'll find the sermon he preached that night here.) The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship helped plan the service; many people participated in leading it. Plantinga also serves as a consultant for Reformed Worship.

Gathering for Worship


We invite you to prepare quietly for the service by listening to settings of two hymns that together capture the spirit of this day OS ct time of both joyful thanksgiving and fervent prayer for Cod's leading.

Organ Voluntary: "Now Thank We All Our God," Johann Sebastian Bach

Piano Voluntary: "Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak," Robert Schumann, Nachtstiicke, Op. 23, no. 4


Choir: "Come, All You People" SNC 4

All: "We Know That Christ Is Raised and Dies No More" PsH 271, PM 495, RL 528

Greeting and Call to Worship

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and
the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
my name is great among the nations, says the Lord
of hosts.
Come, let us sing to the Lord.
Let us shout for joy to the Rock of our Salvation.

Psalm of Praise: "You Servants of the Lord" PsH 134

Confession and Assurance

Call to Confession: Romans 6:3-4

Prayer of Confession

Mighty and merciful God,
you have called us to be your people,
and claimed us for the service of Jesus Christ.
We confess that we have not lived up to our calling.
We have been timid disciples,
forgetting the power of your love
and the strength of your Spirit among us.
O God, forgive our foolish and sinful ways.
As you have chosen us and claimed us in our baptism,
strengthen us anew to choose Christ's way in
the world.
Give us your Holy Spirit that each one in ministry
may be provided with all the gifts of grace
needed to fulfill our common calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Choir: "Psalm 23" SNc:,HI (all singing the refrain as directed)

Assurance of Pardon: from John 10

Thanksgiving: "To God Be the Glory" PsH 632, Ph 485, TH 55, TWC 46

Service of Installation


As many of you as were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is one body and one Spirit,
just as we were called to the one hope of our calling.

Refrain: "You Have Put on Christ" SNC 244
(sung first by the choir, then by all)

In baptism, our brother Neal was clothed with Christ and is now called by God through the voice of the church to enter into ministries of service and governance, announcing in word and deed the good news of Jesus Christ.

We remember with joy our common calling to serve Christ,
and we celebrate God's particular call to our
brother in Christ.


Profession of Faith

Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?

I do.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?

I do.

Will you be Christ's faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?

I will, with God's help.

Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in God the Son?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father
From there he will come to judge the living and
the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Refrain (sung by all in a round, as directed)

Installation anil Vows

Laying on of Hands and Intercessory Prayers

[Eleven people who represented different relationships and influences in the life and ministry of Cornelius Plantinga participated in the laying on of hands. Intercessory prayers were offered for him (see box on p. 19), for Calvin Theological Seminar}', for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, for the mission oftlte holy, catholic church, and for the nations of the world.]

Song of Response: "Will You Come and Follow Me" SNC 267 (choir on st. 1-4, all on st. 5)

Procalamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 126
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

New Testament Reading: John 12:20-26
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Unless a Grain of Wheat Falls

Proclamation in Song: "Alleluia! Alleluia!" PsH 387, TH 283

Response to the Word

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication


Choir: "May the Lord Bless You," Judy Hunnicutt

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia! Amen.

Recessional Hymn: "Lift High the Cross" PsH 373, PH 371, RL 415, TH 263, TWC 229

Organ Voluntary: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You," Johann Sebastian Bach



Prayer of Intercession

Gracious God,
pour out your Spirit upon your servant Neal
whom you called by baptism as your own.
Give him the same mind that was in Christ
wisdom, love, humility, obedience.
May he truthfully proclaim your Word in Christ
from pulpit, table, and font,
and in the words and actions of daily living.
Empower him through the gifts of your Holy
to build up the church and to strengthen the educational mission of
Calvin Seminary.
When times are good and fruitful,
may he rejoice in your loving provision.
When times are stressful and lean,
may he seek your wisdom and rest in your care.
May he lead faculty, students, and staff
with vision and compassion.
In the walk of faith and for the work of ministry,
give to your servant Neal,
and to all who serve as pastors and leaders
among your people,
gladness and strength,
discipline and hope,
humility, humor, and courage,
and an abiding sense of your presence. Amen.


The banner "Unless a Grain of Wheat" was crafted for this service by George Langbroek, a member of Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, St. Catharines, Ontario, and a member of the Reformed Worship council. He also crafted the art on the cover of the program and of this issue of RW.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

-John 12:24.

Reformed Worship 67 © March 2003, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.