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Are You Asleep? - Mark 14

A service plan for the third Sunday of Lent planned around Mark 14:37. This service is part of "Questions of the Last Week," a series of Lent service plans.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Questions of the Last Week

This Lent series is titled "Questions of the Last Week." Each of the questions comes from the narratives of the week before Christ's resurrection. It is our hope and prayer that these series will provide you with variety, thoughtful content, and an excellent opportunity to enrich the spiritual journey of worshipers of all ages.

Theme of the Service

The question considered in this service takes us to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus takes a few of his disciples along while he prepares to struggle with his Father concerning his approaching suffering and death. While Jesus expects his disciples to "watch and pray" that they may support him, he finds them sleeping. This question is a confrontational probing of their watchfulness and alertness. It is an opportunity for us to engage in the same kind of self-examination.

* * * * *


Prelude: "O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High" [see music notes]

The Call and Invitation to Worship

*Opening Hymn: "O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High" PH 83:1-4, PsH 364:1-4, RL 342:1-4, TH 155:1-4, UMH 267:1-4, RL 343:1-4, TWC 193:1-4 [see music notes]

*The Welcome and Greeting

[see liturgy notes]

Anthem: "O Savior of the World," Goss [see music notes]

The Call to Confession
Because we trust in God's grace and mercy, we able to make our honest confessions to him without fear of rejection. We know he will be merciful. So let us call on him for his mercy and grace that we may be renewed.

The Prayer of Confession:
O Christ,
out of your fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
You are our eternal hope;
you are patient and full of mercy;
you are generous to all who call upon you.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, fountain of life and holiness,
you have taken away our sins.
On the cross you were wounded for our transgressions
and were bruised for our iniquities.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, obedient unto death,
source of all comfort,
our life and our resurrection,
our peace and reconciliation:
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, Savior of all who trust you,
hope of all who die for you,
and joy of all the saints:
Save us, Lord.
Jesus, Lamb of God,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, J.2.2.7)
Sung: "Agnus Dei" [see music notes]

The Assurance of Pardon:
When the Holy Gospels give us the account of the suffering and death of our Savior Jesus Christ, they are reassuring us that he has laid down his life for his sheep. As you hear this account, receive in faith that he was ".pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wound we are healed."

Please rise for the reading of the Gospel.

*The reading of Matthew 27:24-31
This is the Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God.
On the basis of the Gospel of Christ, we may be assured that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

*Passing the Peace
The peace of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you.")

*Our Grateful Affirmation: [see liturgy notes]
What do you believe about your forgiveness?
We believe
that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins
because of Jesus Christ,
and that in it our righteousness before God is contained,
as David and Paul teach us
when they declare that man blessed
to whom God grants righteousness
apart from works.
Is such forgiveness given to you freely?
We are justified "freely" or "by grace"
through the redemption in Jesus Christ.
And therefore we cling to this foundation,
which is firm forever,
giving all glory to God,
humbling ourselves,
and recognizing ourselves as we are;
not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits
and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified,
which is ours when we believe in him.
Does this forgiveness give you peace toward God?
This is enough to cover all our sins
and to make us confident,
freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach,
without doing what our first father, Adam, did,
who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves. (from The Belgic Confession of Faith, art.23)

*Song of Testimony: "No Weight of Gold or Silver" PsH 374
or: "There Is a Redeemer" RN 232, SNC145, SWM 128


Anthem: "Thy Will Be Done," Courtney [see music notes]
or: "Will You Pray with My Lord," Liebergen

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Mark 14:32-42
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Are You Asleep?
Questions of the Last Week 3
Text: Mark 14:37

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "Friends in Faith" SNC 135

*Our Affirmation of Faith: Apostles' or Nicene Creed [see liturgy notes]

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Friends in Faith" [see music notes]
The Offering of Our Gifts


*The Words of Sending:
Keep alert,
stand firm in your faith,
be courageous,
be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, NRSV)

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen

*Song: "Go to the World" SNC 294
or: "Go Forth for God" RN 291, UMH 670, PsH 325

Postlude: "Go to the World" [see music notes]

*You are invited to stand

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

There is a common human need behind this story. When we are going through a time of crisis, we need the support of friends. The tragedy of this story is that when Jesus was going through his most agonizing evening and needed the support of his closest friends, they failed him. They slept. His question to them is not so much a question of inquiry as it is of confrontation, rebuke, disappointment, and perhaps even anger.

This event occurs either very late Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning. If you recount the events of Thursday evening, it will be easy to understand why Jesus was "deeply distressed and troubled" (v.33). The disciples were equally troubled, for the evening had involved some startling revelations: Jesus' approaching suffering, Judas' betrayal, and Peter's predicted denial. Agony is in every heart. So Jesus goes deeply into the garden, taking Peter, James and John along, and tells them to "keep watch" (v.34). While Jesus wrestles with the Father (vss.35-36), they fall asleep. Three times Jesus makes this discovery (vss.37-41). What kind of sleep was this? Was it really involuntary? Was it from fatigue? Was something deeper going on? Was it an escape from what was happening? The sleep itself is not the real problem, but is indicative of a deeper kind of failure to provide the support he needed at this critical hour. His question to them seems to be blurted out. There is rebuke, disappointment, and perhaps also warning of what is ahead.

Does the divine Christ, now having become human, experience the pain of being let down by friends the same way we do? Did Christ suffer more because they slept? We can only conjecture how the suffering of Christ was affected because his closest disciples failed to support him in his most critical hours in the garden. Do we sleep spiritually as well as physically? Is it really involuntary? What influences it? Is it from fatigue, or the desire to escape pain? Do we miss the opportunity to love Jesus or our friends because we are sleeping physically or metaphorically? Is there anything we can do to avoid falling asleep?

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)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Suggestions for prelude and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following resources:


Burkhardt, Michael. Partita on Deo Gracios. Morningstar MSM-10-844 [1992] (E-M)
Helman, Michael. Five for Autumn. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7671-8 [2004] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M)
Miller, Aaron David. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (M)
Roberts, Myron J. Improvisation on the Agincourt Hymn. H. W. Grey GSTC 904 [1964] (D)
Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 2. Peters 6012 [1957] (M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000]
Pelz, Walter L. Oh, Love, How Deep. Concordia 97-5675 [1981]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

The anthem suggestions for the service can be found as follows:

Goss, John. O Savior of the World. Schmitt, Hall, McCreary 1907 [1941] (SATB and keyboard;
Courtney, Craig. Thy Will Be Done. Beckenhorst BP1263 [1985] (SATB and keyboard; E-M)
Liebergen, Patrick M. Will You Pray with My Lord. Hope C5111 [2001] (SATB and keyboard;

The text of "Agnus Dei" which has been spoken already in the prayer of confession can also be repeated as a sung prayer. Musical settings of this text can be found directly in PsH 257 and SNC 253. A more contemporary indirect setting can be found in SWM 124.

Alternative harmonizations for the sermon response hymn as well as suggestions for offertory can be found in:

RESTORATION/ARISE ["Friends in Faith"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg11-10163 [1992]

Dahl, David P. Hymn Interpretations. Augsburg 11-10972 [1999] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E-M)
Linker, Janet. Sunday Morning Suite. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7560-6 [2002] (E-M)

Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)

The postlude suggestions can be found in the following resources:

ENGELBERG ["Go to the World"]

Callahan, Charles. Voluntary on Engelberg. Morningstar MSM-10-702 [1990] (M)
Cherwien, David. (1999x) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (D)
Cherwien, David. Gotta Toccata. Augsburg 11-11008 [1999] (D)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 1. AMSI OR1 [1980] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-757 [1994] (M)
Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M)
Wallace, Sue Mitchell. Hymn Prisms. Hope 270 [1985] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 3. Augsburg 11-9320 [1974] (E)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Piano Reflections for the Church Year. Augsburg Fortress 11-11209
[2001] (M)

Liturgy Notes

1. The Service of Confession/Renewal is designed to be a standard form for each week of Lent. This will reinforce its impact and meaning. Each Service will include both a spoken and a sung prayer of confession. And each week a different gospel reading will be included. These passages will be included in the weeks ahead:
March 18: Matthew 27:32-44
March 25: Matthew 27:45-50
April 1: John 19:28-30

2. Worshipers have the opportunity after the Assurance of Pardon to give a grateful affirmation of their faith by using the words of the historic Belgic Confession of Faith. Article 23 is adapted so that it is in a format for responsive congregational use. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom us, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. . Reprinted with permission.

3. The Affirmation of Faith may use the words of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed to publicly profess our unity with the worldwide body of Christ.

4. The Words of Sending are a challenge to go forth in watchfulness, a challenge consistent with the theme of the text for this service.


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