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A Symphony of Service: A Celebration of Our Ministries - Seventh Sunday of Easter - 1 Corinthians 12

A service for the seventh Sunday of the Easter season focusing on giving thanks for the use of gifts and abilities that have made the ministry of the congregation possible during the past season of Easter.

Theme of the Service

The intent of this service of worship is to give thanks for the use of gifts and abilities that have made the ministry of the congregation possible during this past season. A full-orbed congregational program requires the efforts of many folks. Only as each contributes her/his gifts and efforts can ministry be accomplished. Most are volunteers. Many go unrecognized and rarely receive the thanks they deserve.

The direction of thanks in this service is twofold. First of all, it is directed to God for his gifts, the strength of his Spirit, and his blessing on our efforts. Secondly, it is expressed to those who have served. We need to be careful to make our thanks to God primary, and our thanks to others secondary.


Prelude: "Voluntaries on 'Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow' ", Krapf, Burkhardt [organ]
or: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow", Hayes [piano]

The Call to Worship

*Song of Profession: "We Are the Church" SFL 236

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting

People of God, where is your trust placed?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*The Worshipers greet each other

*Response: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" PH 591/592, PsH 638, RL 556, RN 83, SFL 11

The Confession of Our Sins

The Assurance of God's Pardon

Song of Thanksgiving and Praise: "Give Thanks" RN 266, SNC 216, TWC 496


The Reading of Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Song: "We Are Members of Christ's Body" SNC178


The Prayer of Application


Anthem: "Many Gifts, One Spirit", Pote

Worship/Music Ministries

Acknowledgement of Those Who Have Served

A Responsive Reading

Leader: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the people. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

(from Psalms 95 and 96)

All: Therefore, we will gather to express awe, gratitude and praise to our Lord; we will gather to celebrate God's saving presence in our lives; and we will gather to be taught and led through inspiring Scriptural preaching.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song: "Father, We Love You" PsH 634, RN 37, SFL 77, TWC 10

Youth/Education Ministries

Acknowledgement of Those Who Have Served

A Responsive Reading

Leader: I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. Indeed, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

(from Psalm 119 and 3 John)

All: Therefore we will nurture our children and youth for a lifetime of committed Christian discipleship; we will prepare each other to become equipped to serve God, love others, and witness to the world of the lordship of Jesus Christ; and we will support the use of Christian education at church, school, and college.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song: "Seek Ye First" PH 333, PsH 209, SFL 155, TWC 447, WOV 783

Internal/Caring Ministries

Acknowledgement of Those Who Have Served

A Responsive Reading

Leader: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

(from Romans 12)

All: Therefore, we will encourage and support each other throughout our life experiences; we will warmly welcome with hospitality all who enter our doors; and we will encourage and train each other to be caregivers and care receivers.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song: "The Servant Song" RN 148, SFL 248, SNC 277

Outreach/Service Ministries

Acknowledgement of Those Who Have Served

A Responsive Reading:

Leader: Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

All: Therefore, we will encourage each other to be active in personal and local evangelism; we will provide generous financial and prayer support for missionaries and mission causes; we will challenge each other to make commitments in short-term and long-term mission causes; we will raise a prophetic voice against the evils in contemporary society; and we will meet people's needs in Christ's name and invite them on his behalf, to be his disciples.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song: "Here I Am, Lord" PH 525, RN 149, SFL 243, SNC 268, WOV 752

Our Offerings to Continue Ministry

Offertory: "Here I Am, Lord", Carter [piano]
or: "Here I Am, Lord", Farlee [organ]

Offertory Prayer


*Song of Gratitude: "Now Thank We All Our God" PH 555, PsH 454, RL 61, SFL 33, SNC 228 (refrain only), TH 98, TWC 74

*Christ's Challenge to Us – Galatians 6:9-10

*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!

Postlude: "Now Thank We All Our God", Burkhardt

* - you are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

Paul's twelfth chapter to the Corinthians is a very familiar one to most Christians, but it deserves careful study for its significant insight about the life of the church. His analogy of the human body with its diverse parts functioning as a whole is well-known.

You may want to change the analogy to that of a symphony as the title of this sermon suggests. A symphony is large, composed of many members, with a wide variety of instruments, all of which make very different sounds, but which, when skillfully blended together, produce beautiful music. The violin, cello, flute, oboe, trumpet, tympani and other instruments are unique. Some can function alone, but the symphony sounds better when they are combined harmoniously. For such a blended ensemble, a conductor needs to direct them.

The church is that way, Paul says. And the purpose of this sermon is first to explain and then illustrate how your congregation is that way, too. So the exposition of the major truths of 1 Corinthians 12, placed in the framework of a symphony, should help worshipers to see their congregation as a "symphony of service" with many members, and Christ as the conductor.

The sermon and service should aim to communicate a greater appreciation for ourselves as those who have been gifted by Christ and incorporated into his serving body, a greater appreciation for one another though we may be different, and a greater awareness of the adventure of spiritual growth as we each find our place of service within the body.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The organ selections for prelude can be found in "Sing and Rejoice" vol. 3 by Gerhard Krapf, published by SMP KK278 [1983] (E) and "Praise and Thanksgiving" set 2 by Michael Burkhardt, published by Morningstar MSM-10-752 [1989] (E-M). The piano suggestion can be found in "Lord Be Glorified" vol. 2 by Mark Hayes, published by Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M).
  2. "Many Gifts, One Spirit" by Allen Pote is an SATB anthem published by Coronet 392-41388 [1986] (E-M). This anthem is also arranged for different voicings.
  3. The offertory music can be found in "Contemporary Hymns and Songs for Piano" by John Carter, a four hand piano arrangement published by Hope 8087 [2000] (E-M). An alternative organ selection on the same hymn tune can be found in "Many and Great" by Robert Buckley Farlee, published by Augsburg 11-11033 [2000] (E-M).
  4. The postlude music can be found in "Praise and Thanksgiving" set 4 by Michael Burkhardt, published by Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The spirit and tone of this worship service should be set forth during the call to worship. Explain that your purpose today is to celebrate the ministries of the church during the past year. Then call them to worship in that spirit.

2. In this service we've identified the ministries of the church in four categories – worship/music, youth/education, internal/caring and outreach/service – because those are the four that best represented the life of our congregation. You may want to add, subtract, or modify them to better express the life of your congregation.

3. In each section of the Celebration of Our Ministries, those who are serving in those ministries are acknowledged. No distinction is made between those who may be paid staff and those who are volunteers. Sometimes we've asked them to stand in their pew while they are acknowledged and thanked; other years we've asked them to come forward and stand before the congregation.

4. The statements that are intended to be read in unison by all worshipers come from the mission statement of our congregation. You are free to use them if you like, to modify them, or to insert material from the mission statement of your congregation.

5. The participants for the Celebration of Our Ministries should be carefully chosen. The pastor or an elder should be the one to speak words of acknowledgement and thanks to those who have served. A representative from each area of ministry could be selected to lead in the reading. Another staff member, council member, or committee chairperson could be selected to lead in the prayer of thanksgiving.