Nick Overduin is pastor of First Christian Reformed Church, Toronto, Ontario.
Articles by this author:
The dearest idol I have known, whate'er that idol be,
help me to tear it from thy throne
and worship only thee.
William Cawper, 1772
We all know starry-eyed couples who are more "in love with love" than anything else. They are, alarmingly, hardly focused on each other at all. Their energies are more consumed with the details of the wedding day than with the ongoing realities of the life-long marriage afterwards.
"If there is a God, why is this world so terrible?"
"How can we be sure that Christianity is any more valid than any other world religion?"
"If God is always with me, why do I feel as though I've never met him ? "
Call to Worship: Mark 12:28-31
This is Jesus' statement about the two greatest commandments. Thus the service begins with a foil that the minister can use later on in the sermon.
Opening Hymn: "Christ Is Alive!" (another foil)
[RSH 413, PH 108]
Read responsively the Ten Commandments, alternated with some of our Lord's moral teachings (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount). You'll find a good example on page 1013 of the worship edition of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.
Call to Worship: John 8:34-36 and 1 Corinthians 6:12
Run these two passages together—e.g., "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed...Am I not free?")
Law: Galatians 5:1-15
This passage deals with Christian freedom and obligation.
Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 61:1-3
This is a tremendously liberating passage!
Hymn of Gratitude: "Make Me a Captive, Lord"
[PsH 546, PH 378, RL 442, TH 687]
Objection Overruled: Objection 3: Conversion and religious experience are just the result of social conditioning
Hymn of Repentance: "Out of Need and Out of Custom"
Read a selection of verses from Proverbs regarding sons and daughters honoring their moms and dads.
Prayer for Illumination:
"We confess that sometimes going to church is something we have been conditioned to do. Some of us might not even want to be here today, but felt we had to come. Speak to each of us individually. Call us by name. Your sheep hear your voice when you call them by name."
Call to Worship: 1 Corinthians 1:20-24,19,25 (in that order)
You should memorize and practice delivering the words of this passage, since it is a very powerful piece of oratory. Read the verses dramatically, with appropriate gestures.
Opening Hymn: "Come, All Who Fear the Lord God"
This hymn already reflects the fact that this service will be anti-scientism—though not anti-science.
Law: Job 28
Objection Overruled: Objection 5: The presence of evil and suffering in the world proves there is no God
Call to Worship: Psalm 147:1-6
This is a celebratory passage that still introduces the enigma of evil.
Opening Hymn: "God Loves All the Righteous," verses 1, 6, and 7
As we sing this song, we admit that this service will be difficult.
Psalm of Meditation: Psalm 88
This is the most raw and unresolved expression of grief in the Psalms; outdone, probably, only by Job 3.
Responsive Reading: Heidelberg Catechism 27
Objection Overruled: Objection 6: It doesn't matter what you believe because all religions are basically the same
Call to Worship: Acts 4:11-12
Opening Hymn: "Christ Shall Have Dominion"
This song contradicts the sentiments of those who hold to Objection 6.
[PsH 541,TH 439]
Prayer for Illumination:
"Lord, why does it matter what we believe? Please show us today why it matters what we believe, why you call us to be specific when we draw near to you."
Scripture: Acts 17:16-34