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Affirming Priorities (Philippians 3)

Paul aims to encourage the Philippians to live with joy and find deep assurance by faithfully standing in the conviction that their union with Jesus Christ provides credentials and righteousness that cannot be matched.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Paul aims to encourage the Philippians to live with joy and find deep assurance by faithfully standing in the conviction that their union with Jesus Christ provides credentials and righteousness that cannot be matched by anything else.

We Gather in Worship

Prelude/Gathering Music:

Halle, Halle, Hallelujah[see music notes] [see also SWM 134]
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” [see also ELW 836, HW 202]

Psalm of the Day Calls us to Worship:

The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;

for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?

Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.

They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.

Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

what the King of glory may come in.

Who is the King of glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
(Psalm 24)

*Opening Hymn: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” [see music notes] [see also ELW 836, HW 202]

*God’s Greeting and Congregational Amen!

 *Worshipers Greet Each Other

*Song of Praise: “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!” [see also SWM 134]

 We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

Call to Confession

Prayer of Confession (sung and spoken):  [see liturgy notes]

Not What My Hands Have Done,” v.1,2 [see also HW 139]
Spoken Prayer of Confession
Not What My Hands Have Done,” v.3 [see also HW 139]

Assurance of God’s Pardon: Romans 8:31-39

Anthem: “There Is Nothing Left to Fear”, Valerie Shields [see music notes]

God’s Call to Grateful Living: Ephesians 4:32-5:2

*Song of Dedication: “Be Thou My Vision” [see music notes]

God Speaks through His Word

Prayer for Illumination:

Dear God, silence all voices within our minds but your own.
Help us to seek and be able to follow your will.
May our prayers be joined
with those of our sisters and brothers in the faith,
that together we may glorify your name
and enjoy your fellowship forever.
in Jesus name, Amen. 

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:1-11

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks Be to God!

Sermon: Affirming Priorities

Prayer of Application

Our Response to God’s Word

*Song of Devotion: “Knowing You” [see also CSW 15]

*Profession of the Church’s Faith:

Christ has redeemed us by his blood.
But we do good because
Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself,
so that in all our living
we may show that we are thankful to God
for all he has done for us,
and so that he may be praised through us.
And we do good
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Q/A 86)

Prayers of the People

Offertory and Offering [see music notes]

We Leave to Live for God

*Song of Thanks: [see music notes]

In Christ Alone” [see also CSW 20, HW 254] or
How Vast the Benefits Divine” [see also HW 107] or
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” [see also ELW 631, HW 88]

*Words of Sending:

So if you have been raised with Christ,
seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth,
for you have died,
and your life is hidden
with Christ in God.              
(Colossians 3:1-3)

*God’s Parting Blessing and Congregational Amen!

 Postlude: “Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling[see music notes] [see also ELW 631, HW 88]

*Indicates standing if you are able.

The materials included here from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK are used by permission from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK, © 2004, CRC Publications. This permission is granted for one time worship use in an order of service for a congregation, or in a special program or lesson resource, provided that no part of such reproduction is sold, directly or indirectly. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

Liturgy Notes

1.      This Prayer of Confession includes portions that are sung by the congregation from the hymn recommended, and words that are spoken by the worship leader. This should be explain prior to beginning so the prayer is seamless throughout.

2.      The Prayer for Illumination has been written by Jeffrey Carlson and can be found in Reformed Worship, 1991.

Sermon Notes

In this section we find Paul functioning on three different levels simultaneously. He is giving personal and pastoral counsel to his readers in Philippi; he is presenting his own powerful personal testimony; and he is pointing to a great theological mystery. And the context of it all are the encouragements that brothers and sisters in the Lord ought to rejoice!

His personal counsel to them reveals his pastor’s heart. Pastors need to repeat themselves often for the sake of those they lead. So Paul has obviously warned the Philippians, and other believers, of the dangers that lurk and could easily distract them from living in the grace of God. “I have said these same things before,” he says, “but it is necessary for your sake that I say them again….” So he says them again as safeguards. Believers of all ages are vulnerable to false teachings, and especially new believers are vulnerable. So he firmly repeats himself, warning them about those who put “confidence in the flesh.” He calls them “dogs…evil workers…who mutilate the flesh.” There is fear behind these warnings, the fear of an apostle that those who have embraced Christ will find it attractive to embrace Christ less and other things more. Such warnings always bear repeating.

And then Paul digs into his own personal story for a striking testimony. Undoubtedly, the Philippians had heard his story and testimony before, but this too bears repeating . If you are looking for credentials that will seemingly help you stand with confidence, then Paul will put up his credentials against everyone else. His credentials were as impressive as anyone’s. Read verses 5 through 6 and carefully try to visualize the strict religious life behind them. He was so thoroughly religious that he felt called to persecute those who were less credentialed.  And then he explains the great reversal that took place. All those impeccable credentials held nothing. He not only discards them, he also denigrates them in the strongest terms – loss, rubbish, dung! All for “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (v.8)

He continues, not so much in explanation of the significance and meaning of Christ, not so much in explanation of the new righteousness that is based on faith, but by pointing to a very mysterious relationship and union with Christ. Reflect deeply on his phrases – I gain Christ; I am found in Christ; I know Christ; I know the power of his resurrection; I share in his sufferings; and I even attain to the resurrection from the dead. These are powerful concentrated statements which take deep reflection and leave us with a degree of mystery. The union with Christ is so deep in all its dimensions that words are too limited to adequately carry its meaning.

Yet, starkly, the contrast remains – between the feeble attempts to find righteousness in the flesh and the profound righteousness that comes only through faith in this Jesus Christ.

Music Notes

1.      Prelude suggestions and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn of the service can be found in the following resources:

HALLE, HALLE [“Halle, Halle, Hallelujah”]

  • Organ:
    • Behnke, John A. Three Global Songs. Hope 8057 [1999] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Contemporary Hymns & Songs for Piano/4 Hands. Hope 8087 [2000] (E-M)
    • Kolander, Keith. When Our Song Says Peace. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2345-2 [2006] (E-M) 

HYMN TO JOY/ODE TO JOY [“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”]

  • Organ:
    • Bish, Diane. Joyful, Joyful. Beckenhorst (M-D)
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Hymn to Joy. Morningstar MSM-10-729 [2000] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Postludes on Well Known Hymns. Augsburg 11-10795 [1997] (E-M)
    • Costello, Michael. God Will Guide You. Morningstar MSM-10-620 [2008] (E-M)
    • Ferguson, John. A Thanksgiving Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-603 [2001] (E-M)
    • Hopson, Hal. Processional of Joy. Fischer P3236 [1977] (E-M)
    • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice. vol. 2 SMP KK235 [1982] (adaptable for piano; E)
    • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M)
    • Wold, Wayne. L. (2003) Augsburg Organ Library – Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Bottomley, Greg. Piano Sunday Morning. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-6384-1 [2009] (M)
    • Carter, John. Easy Hymns for 4 Hands. Hope 8146 [2002] (E-M)
    • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Sherman, Arnold B. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Agape 1652 [1993] (2-3 octaves, E-M)
    • Wagner, Douglas. E. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Jenson 466-10019 [1983] (3 octaves, M)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ. bk. 2 Ludwig O-07 [1983]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Gervais, Pam. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]

2.      The anthem “There Is Nothing Left to Fear” by Valerie Shields ispublished by GIA G-6427 [2006]. It is set for Solo, SSATB voices and keyboard, with optional assembly participation.

3.      Alternative harmonizations and offertory suggestions on “Be Thou My Vision” can be found in: 


  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg11-10163 [1992]
    • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ. vol. 2 CPH 97-6851 [2000]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
  • Organ:
    • Ashdown, Franklin D. Augsburg Organ Library – Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
    • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Slane. Concordia 97-6046 [1990] (M)
    • Culli, Benjamin M. Musica Sacra: Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. vol. 5 Concordia 97-7193 [2006] (E-M)
    • Eggert, John. Variations on Slane. Concordia 97-7157 [2006] (E-M)
    • Held, Wilbur. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. vol. 4 Concordia 97-7032 [2005] (E-M)
    • Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M)
    • Young, Gordon. Eight Voluntaries. Presser 413-41034-30 [1961] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Favorite Hymns for Piano. Hope 8823 [2007] (E-M)
    • Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified. vol 2 Word 301 0063 318 [1992] (M)
    • Larkin, Michael. Be Thou My Vision. Morningstar MSM-15-832 [2004] (E-M)
    • Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (E-M)
    • Lind, Richard. Piano Impressions for Worship. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-7880-7 [2007] (M)
    • Oquin, Wayne. All Things New. Concordia 97-7205 [2006]  (M-D; new-age feel)
    • Organ, Anne Krentz. Be Thou My Vision. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7852-4 [2007]  (M)           
    • Raney, Joel. Meditations for Quiet Worship. Hope 8320 [2007] (E-M; contemporary pop style)
    • Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Hopson, Hal H. Be Thou My Vision. Coronet CP2004 [1982] (3 octaves, E-M)

4.      We are suggesting three options for the closing song of thanks – all are appropriate to the flow of the service and yet all have a slightly different spirit.

5.      Suggestions for the postlude music, based on “Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling” can be found in the following resources:


  • Organ:
    • Barr, John G. Processional Prelude on Hyfrydol. H. W. Grey GSTC 01083 [1992] (M)
    • Coleman, Henry. A Book of Hymn Tune Voluntaries. Oxford ISBN 0-19-375115-1 [1950] (E-M)
    • Fedak, Alfred V.  A Wesley Organbook. Morningstar MSM-10-595 [2006] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
    • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice. vol. 2 SMP KK235 [1982] (adaptable to piano; E-M)
    • Schalk, Carl. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. Vol. 1 Concordia 97-7001 [2002] (E)
    • Sedio, Mark. The Praises of Zion. CPH 97-6728 [1998] (E-M)
    • Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (M)
    • Vaughan-Williams, Ralph. Augsburg Organ Library – Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (M)
    • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes. set 1 Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Merrily on High. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2347-9 [2006] (E-M)
    • Leavitt, John. A Mighty Fortress Sacred Reflections for Piano. Concordia 97-7254 [2007] (M)
    • Lind, Richard. Piano Impressions for Worship. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-7880-7 [2007] (M)
    • Shaw, Timothy. Great Hymns of Faith for the Church Pianist. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-2167-4 [2008] (M)
    • Sowash, Bradley. Great English Hymns. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-7879 [2007] (E-M; jazz style)
    • Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Crawshaw, Craig. Hallelujah, What a Savior. Jenson 469-08019 [1984] (3 octaves, E-M)
    • Hopson, Hal. H. Fantasy on "Hyfrydol". Agape 1048 [1982] (2 octaves, E-M)
    • Hopson, Hal. H. Fantasy on "Hyfrydol". Agape 2078 [1999] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
    • Tucker, Sondra K. Meditation on Hyfrydol. Chorister’s Guild CGB-182 [1996] (3 octaves, E-M)

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations

  • CSW: Contemporary Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress Publishing)
  • GSW: Global Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • HW: Hymns for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • 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)
  • SNT: Singing the New Testament (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SWM: Sing With Me (Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • TWC: The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing)
  • TH: Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
  • UMH: The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
  • WOV: With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
  • W&R: Worship and Rejoice (Hope Publishing)